Millwall look for financial rescue

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There was widely differing financial news for two Second Division clubs yesterday. Millwall have called in administrators to try to stave off the threat of closure after shares in the club's holding company were frozen at just four pence each, while Peterborough announced the arrival of a new owner following the news that manager Barry Fry had never actually taken control.

A statement yesterday revealed that Millwall's board of directors had "decided to seek an administration order in order to facilitate the reconstruction and refinancing of the company". The administrators will run the business and protect it from creditors while the board tries to sort out its problems.

The Millwall chairman, Peter Mead, yesterday tried to reassure fans and investors over the future of the club by promising that the refinancing package would place Millwall on a firmer financial footing.

"We are looking to refinance the club and simply asked the Stock Exchange to suspend the shares, as we are required to do so by law, in order to carry it out," he said. "We built this stadium [the New Den] and geared up the club for Premier League football. We failed to achieve that objective and sadly last year we were relegated.

"Equally sadly, the costs of running the club as a Premier club remain. What we have been doing in the past, to your disappointment and mine, is to sell players to make up for this shortfall in our income against our Premier League expectations.

"What we have now decided to do is a once-and-for-all re-organisation and refinancing package to mean that we won't have to carry on selling all our best young players just to cover losses, but to strengthen the club to achieve our ambitions."

Former Millwall chairman Reg Burr also expressed confidence that the difficulties would be resolved. "It's obviously a very critical situation but I don't believe for a moment that it's complete doom and gloom."

Peterborough, who have debts reported to be in the region of pounds 2.5m, are expected to confirm Peter Boizot, founder of the Pizza Express chain, as their new owner tomorrow. Fry, who took over at London Road last May, said that his planned purchase of the shareholdings of former chairman Alf Hand and chief executive Chris Turner never went through.

"There were a lot of problems as we started looking into the financial side of the club and I have concentrated on getting things right on the field of play," Fry said.

Millwall crisis, page 19