Red-card threat to cash-hungry clubs

The new football season could kick off on Saturday without the two professional teams that are still being run by administrators taking part.

The fate of Crystal Palace and Luton Town looked uncertain this week.

After a long meeting with Football League officials on Monday, chief executive Richard Scudamore said it would review the situation on a daily basis and as long as the clubs were out of administration by Saturday they would be allowed to start the season.

‘The Football League is playing hardball,’ said one corporate insolvency source, who warned that more smaller clubs outside the Premiership could fall into receivership.

The state of the sport’s parlous finances was reinforced today in Deloitte & Touche’s annual football review. Although the government gave professional sport a temporary tax concession to soften the effect of FRS 10: ‘Goodwill and intangible assets’, the divide continues to grow between football’s haves – like Arsenal and Manchester United (above) who contested last week’s Charity Shield – and the growing number of have-nots.

Premier League clubs last week won a court decision to retain their collective bargaining status over TV rights, but lower league clubs are finding it harder and harder to gain access to capital – as shown by the experiences of Palace, Luton and other troubled clubs such as Chester and Portsmouth.

‘Most of the clubs that wanted to float have done so, but as with any small cap company in the current climate, that isn’t an avenue open to smaller Nationwide clubs at the moment,’ said Deloittes corporate finance partner Dan Jones.

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