Archibald gets closure respite

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The Independent Football

Airdrie pulled back from the brink of closure last night after the Scottish First Division side's supporters banded together to pay a debt which was threatening to shut the 122-year-old club. The move ended a day of farce and drama for Steve Archibald and his players, who found themselves locked out of their Excelsior stadium when they returned from training on the orders of the club's liquidators.

Airdrie pulled back from the brink of closure last night after the Scottish First Division side's supporters banded together to pay a debt which was threatening to shut the 122-year-old club. The move ended a day of farce and drama for Steve Archibald and his players, who found themselves locked out of their Excelsior stadium when they returned from training on the orders of the club's liquidators.

The former Tottenham and Barcelona player took over the cash-stricken club in July and has been working towards concluding a deal to buy it. However, a row over certain payments that the liquidators, KPMG, said it was due cast a cloud over Airdrie yesterday. Archibald was told that unless he produced £15,000 for running costs then KPMG would close the 1992 and 1995 Scottish Cup finalists, who went into provisional liquidation in February with debts of over £750,000.

Archibald insisted he would "not budge" on the payment because he was working to a strict budget, but the Airdrie Supporters' Association came up with a dramatic rescue bid when they raised £15,000 and handed it into KPMG's Glasgow offices last night.

"The ship sails on for the time being," said a relieved Archibald. "Obviously this shows how much the club means to the fans and the community. It is an institution which has been going for over a century." Archibald, 43, the director of football, was facing the prospect of Airdrie shutting the doors for good when he returned from training to find that the locks on the stadium's doors had been changed and a security team hired by KPMG were barring his players from the dressing-rooms.

Archibald was told by KPMG that he had been relieved of his responsibilities and there seemed little hope that Airdrie could fulfil their away fixture at Alloa tomorrow, which would have brought expulsion from the Scottish Football League.

It took several hours of negotiations yesterday to break the deadlock, with Archibald signing a management contract demanded by KPMG, though there is still some haggling to be done over a £40,000 insurance guarantee wanted by the liquidators.

"I have never walked away from anything," said the former Scotland striker, "and I did not intend to walk away from this. All I was asking was that KPMG be more responsible and they show some sense."

Much of the drama must have been lost on Archibald's players, many of whom he recruited from Spain, using his contacts from his time with Barcelona. There are seven Spaniards and a Frenchman in the Airdrie squad.

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