Football: Palace able to begin new season

Click to follow
The Independent Online
CRYSTAL PALACE will be allowed to start the new season despite not having resolved their serious financial problems, the Football League said last night.

"We're confident that a deal will be in place that will allow them to play this season," Peter Rowe, a League spokesman, said of Palace, who went into administration in March with debts of pounds 20m. "Our chief executive has been in extensive talks, lawyers are looking at various proposals and it's likely to go on for a while longer yet."

Palace's administrator, Simon Paterson, has notified the League of two bids for the club, both of which must be approved by the League before either can be put to the club's creditors. The creditors then have to accept any proposed plan put to them before the new owners are confirmed. The League is confident that one of the bids can save the club.

One bid is led by the Palace director, Simon Hume-Kendall, and is understood to be worth more than pounds 10m. The other bid, the League has confirmed, is being masterminded by Mark Goldberg, Palace's insolvent chairman. It is being financed by unidentified City investors and is understood to be worth a similar amount. Officially, the involvement of Goldberg, who took the club into administration in the first place, is not a problem for the League. Privately, the League has sought assurances that Goldberg would have no greater part in the City bid than bringing the investors together and then making his exit.

Goldberg's personal financial problems - he has debts of pounds 30m - were alleviated slightly yesterday when his creditors accepted an agreement for him to repay them around 20p in the pound over the next six years. This saved him from bankruptcy, but he has other hurdles left to clear. One group of creditors, who voted against accepting his offer, is lodging an appeal to have the agreement overturned. Goldberg's ability to settle any deal made, is partially dependent on whether the City consortium takes over Palace, thereby making available pounds 3.2m he deposited on the club's behalf with HSBC bank.

Luton Town, who are in administrative receivership have also been given more time to secure their future.

The Football League's chief executive, Peter Scudamore, said: "Having spent today considering the position, the Board has satisfied itself that negotiations with interested parties have progressed to the stage that it is likely an acceptable outcome can be agreed for the start of the new season."

He said the League would review the situation on a daily basis.