Rival clubs vent fury at Cardiff's handout

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The Independent Online

Cardiff City's decision to ask for financial help has fuelled debate over appropriate action for clubs struggling to control debt.

Cardiff City's decision to ask for financial help has fuelled debate over appropriate action for clubs struggling to control debt.

The relegation-threatened Championship club are embroiled in controversy after accepting a loan from the Professional Footballers' Association to pay their squad's wages. Although the PFA say Cardiff have not been given a leg-up in their attempt to avoid administration and potential relegation, other clubs fighting the drop have expressed displeasure at a handout they believe has staved off the threat of administration, which now incurs a 10-point penalty, as Wrexham suffered earlier this season.

A similar deduction for Cardiff, who are about £30m in debt, would almost certainly result in relegation. To add to their rivals' fury, Cardiff signed Watford's Neal Ardley and Michael Boulding, temporarily from Barnsley, hours before the confirmation of the PFA's help.

"I don't have any issues with the PFA but I find it a bit bizarre that Cardiff signed two players on deadline day," the Gillingham chairman, Paul Scally, said. "Now they have apparently taken a loan as a last resort.

"My view is that the system of deducting 10 points from clubs that go into administration is not appropriate. I think if you go into administration you should be relegated into a lower division to see if you can run things better there where the costs are lower."

The Football League introduced the penalty at the start of the season in a bid to create a level financial playing field for all 72 members. But Nottingham Forest's finance director, John Pelling, said: "I am not sure the League's regulations are very effective when one club can obtain such a substantial loan from the PFA to fund itself in the short term.

"It's hard to see how a club that took two additional players on to its payroll last week can have financial difficulties that require a loan described by the PFA as the 'last resort' ... the Football League should review both its regulations with respect to sporting sanctions and the myriad of ways in which the finances of the Football League and PFA are interlinked."

The PFA's deputy chief executive, Mick McGuire, countered by saying that aggrieved clubs are being myopic given that the organisation only deals in short-term loans which ensure their members are paid during times of crisis.

"I have read with interest figures being bandied around about the level of loan we have given to Cardiff, which are so far from the truth it suggests they are being used for hidden motives," said McGuire. "To suggest we are giving Cardiff an unfair advantage to keep them out of administration is such a low argument.

"To put the matter straight we only give loans to help cashflow in the short term to help pay the players who otherwise might have to have their wages deferred.

"The truth of it is that this facility has always been there, every club has the opportunity to use this kind of loan to aid them in the short term and in all due respect many clubs have used it."

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