Football: Last chance for Bournemouth

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The Independent Online
The debt-ridden Second Division club AFC Bournemouth have been given a stay of execution by the Football League.

An emotional meeting at the town's Winter Gardens on Wednesday night was told by the receiver Alan Lewis that Saturday's win at Bristol City would not be the club's last fixture - as had been feared.

To cheers from the 2,000 fans packed into the theatre, Lewis said: "The League have relented and will allow us to play against Blackpool on Saturday and possibly beyond."

Bournemouth, who have admitted to pounds 4.4m debts, launched a trust appeal on Monday with the aim of raising pounds 300,000 just to see the club through to the end of the season.

The meeting enabled Bournemouth to gather in pounds 30,000 to add to the pounds 50,000 already raised by the appeal.

Players were among the crowd as the club's three remaining directors explained how close the club was to extinction.

The acting chairman, Brian Willis, said the threat of closure was as real as it had ever been in the club's 98-year history.

"When the receivers came in on Friday there seemed to be no way out and that could still be the case if we don't raise this money," he said.

"But the level of support has been fantastic from all over the world with pledges of money from as far away as Canada and Australia.

"If we can get through to the end of the season, we could buy some time to work out a way of rescheduling our debts."

Bournemouth owe pounds 2.1m to Lloyds Bank, who called in the receivers last week, while another pounds 450,000 is owed in unpaid VAT and PAYE.

Twelve backroom staff lost their jobs last week in a cost- cutting exercise- including the club's assistant manager, John Williams, so far the only casualty on the playing side.

Manchester City have appointed Liverpool's commercial manager, Mike Turner, as their new chief executive with effect from 3 March.

The present incumbent, Colin Barlow, who was "lieutenant" to the chairman, Francis Lee, in the successful takeover battle against the late Peter Swales three years ago, is to take up a new role in special project development.

"We are delighted Mike is joining us," Lee said. "He has got an excellent record of achievement in the sports industry and we know he will greatly strengthen our commercial team."

Barlow, a former City player, said: "I have been three years away from my companies and would like to devote more of my time to them. I remain committed to this wonderful club as a main board director and as a substantial shareholder and am sure that now the infrastructure of the club has been put into place, it is ready to really take off commercially."

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