Debt-ridden St Albans given hope by new bid

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The Independent Online

There is fresh hope that a saviour might be found to secure the future of St Albans City.

The grand old Hertfordshire club, who have been playing at Clarence Park since 1894, were suspended from the Ryman League last week after failing to provide guarantees that they could meet financial commitments. The Saints, who have debts of about £100,000 (mostly to the Inland Revenue), also face a High Court winding-up order on 20 February.

The Ryman League, which has denied reports that St Albans have been expelled from the League, took the suspension decision after Lee Harding, the club chairman and majority shareholder, rejected an offer for his shares from a source which would have met the League's requirements.

This week, however, another consortium has entered the picture and is eager to do a deal with Harding.

It is understood that the new bidders are anxious to secure the future of football in St Albans for social and historic reasons and would not seek to make money out of control of the club.

Harding has claimed that he saved the club after he took control in 1998 but others have been less charitable about his achievements. A former manager, Kevin Mudd, has said that "one man's ego has shattered hundreds of people's dreams".

As the wrangling continues, a number of the Saints' players, who have not been paid for two months, are poised to leave for other clubs.

Despite the off-field problems, City are currently in seventh place in the Ryman Premier Division.

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