Chairmen have opposing views

TWO of the country's leading chairmen will have opposing viewpoints when the Football League meet tomorrow to discuss docking points for teams in administration.

TWO of the country's leading chairmen will have opposing viewpoints when the Football League meet tomorrow to discuss docking points for teams in administration.

Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks is against the move in principle, while Colchester United supremo Peter Heard favours the sanctions.

But both men agree each club in administration needs to be looked at separately before any points deductions are made.

All 72 League club bosses will meet at Leicester City's Walkers Stadium tomorrow to discuss the proposals, which would come into effect for the 2004/2005 season.

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Recently-appointed Football League chairman Sir Brian Mawhinney will put the plans forward and suggest a range of sanctions from points deductions to relegation or even expulsion.

Many clubs have been angered by Leicester City's promotion despite the fact they went into administration but were then taken over by a new company and carried on with the same squad, and wage bill, almost as if nothing had happened.

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Neil Warnock, manager of promotion rivals Sheffield United, said it was wrong that City had not sold players, yet Ipswich had to. He blasted the Foxes in the Blades programme before the two teams met on Monday and said: "I find it quite immoral that they have been allowed to do what they have done off the field.

"It leaves a bitter taste and I'm sure it will be a catalyst for a rule change within both the Premier and Nationwide Leagues.

"Otherwise, everyone with huge debts will do exactly the same and it leaves clubs like ourselves – who run a tight financial ship – at a huge disadvantage."

Sheepshanks, a former Football League chairman, said: "The proposals do not take into account the different levels of problems and actions taken by clubs in administration."

Heard, who was the League's acting-chairman for four months last year while the search for a replacement for Keith Harris went on, said: "It is a difficult one given no club in administration is the same, but I feel there needs to be some sort of sporting sanction.

"I'm in favour of the changes though I'm not sure how many other chairmen will be in agreement. There will be those who are in administration or are close to it and those who feel 'there but the grace of God…' but at the same time there are quite a few who are extremely unhappy at what has happened at Leicester City, who have been promoted without selling a player, while others have had to.

"Clubs now need to budget for failure, instead of budgeting for success but reality does now seem to be creeping through."

Heard also supports a proposal by Crystal Palace chief executive Phil Alexander, a former American football kicker, to extend the play-off system to include six teams after the automatic promotion places.

And the first of the wage-capping plans will go ahead next season when Division Three clubs accept a salary ceiling. The willingness of Third Division clubs to trial this will be supported by the remaining League clubs, opening the way for it to be introduced in higher divisions if successful.

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