Football: Palace dream fading fast for Goldberg

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The Independent Online
MARK GOLDBERG'S dreams of building a football club to compete with the best in the country appeared to be in tatters last night after he was forced to call in the administrators to sort out Crystal Palace's dire financial situation.

At a board meeting yesterday afternoon, Goldberg conceded that Palace needed outside professional help. A unanimous resolution was passed which stated: "Having regard to the present financial position of the company, the board are seeking to reorganise their finances and to that end will instruct professional advisers with a view to entering into a deed of administration so as to secure the long-term future of the club."

Present at the meeting was David Buchler, of Buchler Philips, an administration firm that specialises in company rescue. Buchler was asked to act as the administrator for Palace and he accepted. Administration is the legal term given to a process which offers a troubled company protection from its creditors for a limited period - usually three months - while the company seeks solutions.

It is understood that Buchler has yet to examine Palace's situation in detail, but the work he does is likely to see a complete restructuring of the way Palace is owned, financed and run. It is understood that there were potential new owners and investors present at yesterday's board meeting, although their identities have not been confirmed. A London-based company, Trump Oil, have loaned money to Palace within the last year and have a representative on the board, but it is not known whether they are considering increasing their investment.

Ron Noades, the former owner of Palace who sold the club to Goldberg last year for pounds 22.8m and who still owns the club's Selhurst Park ground, has said that he is not be interested in helping Goldberg sort out his financial problems, but it is understood he might be interested in returning in some capacity if the administrators fail to save the club from going bankrupt.

Buchler's first task will be to go through Palace's accounts - the club is understood to be pounds 9m in debt - and talk to the club's creditors. He will also scrutinise the players' contracts to see whether cuts are needed in the playing staff.

One of Goldberg's biggest problems has been his wage bill. Although Palace sold their promising striker Matt Jansen to Blackburn for pounds 4m, ended the coaching tenure of Terry Venables because they could no longer afford his pounds 750,000 per year salary, and offloaded other players such as Michele Padovano and Attilio Lombardo, they retain numerous players on contracts that have up to three years left to run. Craig Moore is understood to be paid pounds 13,000 per week, David Amsalem pounds 6,500 per week, Craig Foster pounds 5,000 per week, and the club's two Chinese players, Sun Jihai and Fan Zhiyi, pounds 4,000 per week each.

According to sources close to the club, a broad outline of the administrator's plans will become clear within a couple of days. Goldberg said: "The present position is one common to a number of other clubs that have gone into administration. To date, all those clubs have come through administration fitter, healthier and more efficient to secure their future in the Football League."

Other clubs currently in administration are Portsmouth and Chester. Brighton are recovering after being in a similar situation, as are Bournemouth, who are now run on a non-profit basis by a fans' co-operative.