Saints coy on Walcott deal

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The Independent Football

Southampton are refusing to comment on reports claiming they have accepted an early payment from Arsenal for Theo Walcott, in order to ease immediate financial problems.

Walcott, then aged 16, moved to Arsenal in January 2006 for an initial £5m fee which could rise to £12m, based upon his progress. Saints, however, are thought to have accepted a total payment of £9.1m for the England striker.

The Championship strugglers have reduced their financial losses but still face an uncertain future, according to their latest half-year report. In the six months ending 31 December 2007, Saints' loss after tax was £700,000, despite a drop in revenue of more than £5m.

The majority of that improved figure came from the sales of Kenwyne Jones to Sunderland and Chris Baird to Fulham.

In his financial statement the acting plc chairman, Keith Wiseman, said: "The board confirms it is working closely with, and has the support of, its bankers."

But the report warned of "a material uncertainty which may cast doubt about the group's ability to continue as a going concern".

The uncertainty at St Mary's deepened further yesterday morning when Rupert Lowe and a fellow former chairman, Michael Wilde, who are still shareholders in the club, called for an extraordinary general meeting which could see them restored to the boardroom.