Football: Goldberg may still have role at Palace

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MARK GOLDBERG, the Crystal Palace chairman who took the club into administration with debts of pounds 20m, could be involved in the running of the club next season - with the approval of the accountants charged with sorting out their financial problems.

"It wouldn't bother me in the slightest if Mark was involved in a consortium [to take over at Palace]," Simon Paterson, of Moore Stephens, the club's administrators, said yesterday. "We're not interested in personalities. We're interested in what is best for the future of Crystal Palace Football Club."

Paterson's comments came after Goldberg was reported to have confirmed that he is behind a consortium of "City investors" who have tabled a bid for the financially troubled First Division club. Paterson could not confirm that Goldberg was behind the bid, saying only: "Mark Goldberg is not the person I am dealing with from the consortium."

The consortium tabled their bid last week, but have not yet revealed their identities. It is believed that they are proposing to inject pounds 16m into Palace, but it is not clear how much would be available for football matters. It is understood that pounds 5m would go to Juventus and Strasbourg to pay off outstanding transfer fees and pounds 3m would go to Goldberg, who is one of Palace's creditors.

Matters are complicated further because Goldberg has personal debts of pounds 30m and faces a meeting of his own creditors on Monday to see if they will accept partial payment of his debts. Whether those liabilities can be met may be dependent on whether the "City consortium" take over at Palace.

Their bid is one of two being seriously considered for recommendation by Paterson to the Football League and to the club's creditors. The other is a pounds 10m package proposed by a group of Palace directors, led by Simon Hume-Kendall. Their bid would guarantee less money directly to the club's creditors, but would probably ensure more investment in the long-term future of football at Selhurst Park.

The directors' bid is the only one that has the backing of the club's former owner, Ron Noades, who still owns Selhurst Park. This could prove important in any future renegotiation of Palace's lease.

"The only way forward is to pay the creditors with money, not promises," Hume-Kendall said yesterday. "We are only interested in making a bid that is in the best interests of Palace. If another came along that we felt was better than ours, we would support it."

Paterson will meet the Football League tomorrow to discuss the two bids for Palace. He said last week that the "City" bid offered more to creditors and that, as the administrator, the creditors had to be his priority. The League is likely to give approval to whichever bid Paterson recommends. He said yesterday that he would make his final decision on Friday.

The League has said that a deal must be in place by next Monday or Palace face expulsion. In reality, the League may accept that a deal is imminent and give Palace five or six weeks' leeway to put any rescue offer to creditors. Only when the creditors accept a deal and money is produced will the future of the club begin to look brighter. Goldberg's role, until then, will remain unknown.

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