Victor Moses, Crystal Palace's most coveted on-field asset, was last night left out of the Championship club's match at Newcastle United at the request of the newly appointed administrators, P&A Partnership.
Moses is expected to be sold within days as P&A attempts to raise funds to appease the club's creditors and maintain the side as a going concern. West Bromwich Albion, who have tabled a £2m bid, are favourites to sign the Under-21 winger though they may yet be gazumped either by Premier League clubs, or promotion rivals Nottingham Forest.
Moses has scored six goals in his last nine appearances but may have been omitted last night anyway. He is not fully fit and his poor performance at Molineux on Saturday raised fears within the club that the speculation had unsettled him.
Last night's match, against the leaders, was always likely to be a rearguard action in which the teenager would see little of the ball.
Palace's manager, Neil Warnock, will meet the administrators today, after the club return from the North East. His contract runs for another 18 months but he could be made redundant and told to join the list of creditors. However, having steered the club to the fringe of the play-off places (before the 10-point deduction to be imposed for going into administration) despite a transfer embargo it is likely the administrators wish to retain him pending advice from probable buyers.
Apart from players such as Moses, Nathaniel Clyne, Julian Speroni and Sean Scannell, Palace's only other major assets are their name, tradition, and status as a Championship club. Selhurst Park is, in effect, part-owned by the taxpayer having been taken over by HBOS when Rock Investments, a property company run by the former Spurs vice-chairman Paul Kemsley, went into administration. HBOS was subsumed into Lloyds TSB during the banking crisis, which was then rescued by the Government. The club are thought to have a 23-year lease on the ground.
This is the second time Crystal Palace have been in administration in 11 years but it is thought a buyer will be found before the end of the season.