Southampton Leisure Holdings plc went into administration yesterday with their chairman, Rupert Lowe, resigning. The club chairman, Michael Wilde, and director Andrew Cowen have also left both the company and the club, with specialists Begbies Traynor placed in charge. The joint-administrator Mark Fry admits the outlook is bleak for Saints, who are more than £30m in debt.
"If we don't find a buyer there is a very, very high probability that it will not last until the end of the season. Realistically, it will mean the end of the football club," Fry said. "It's a very different economic climate from two years ago and football clubs have fallen as hard as anything. We are urging the fans to show up and support the team for the last three home games to help the cash flow and also demonstrate to potential investors the level of the fan base."
By placing their parent company into administration Saints appear to have avoided a 10-point deduction from the Football League. That is unlikely to sit well with other teams in the relegation scrap, while the League's bottom club Luton, deducted 30 points relating to their fall into administration, have voiced their disapproval. "This makes a mockery of the Football League's attempts to uphold the integrity of the competition," said their managing director, Gary Sweet. "I see no reason why any club should not set up a holding company that carries the entire debt of the club which is periodically put into administration in order to cleanse debt while attracting no sanctions."
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