Deal with Farsley's fans could provide late rescue

THE administrators running Farsley Celtic were last night locked in talks with supporters to try to thrash out a last-ditch deal to earn the troubled club a reprieve.

The Leeds outfit have been unable to fulfil their last three Conference North fixtures after a proposed takeover by a consortium led by president John Palmer was rejected.

Farsley, who went into administration last June amid debts of around 500,000 after a meteoric rise up the football pyramid, could yet be expelled by Conference officials but the administrators Mazars are hoping the 11th-hour deal may keep the club going until the end of the season.

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Under the proposal, ownership of Celtic would be transferred to the supporters' club along with the club's single Conference share, which allows it to play in the league.

If agreement can be reached, Mazars claim the plan would enable the club to continue as a not-for-profit organisation. It would then, the administrators hope, buy extra time for a buyer to be found.

Should the plan fail, however, it seems likely Farsley will follow Bradford Park Avenue, Scarborough and Halifax Town in folding after falling on hard times.

Robert Adamson, partner at the Leeds office of Mazars, said: "We see this as the only way that Farsley Celtic can continue as a football club and it gives the ownership of the club to the people who care about it the most – the fans.

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"What this proposal will do is to allow Farsley's players and management to carry on playing football and complete the season as planned, while giving the supporters club the chance to run the club and secure its future longer-term, whether that is in Conference North or in another division.

"Certainly, it is not what the fans would have wanted at the start of the season but without this deal, there will be no Farsley Celtic at all and that would be a real blow to the fans and the local community."

Farsley, whose games against AFC Telford, Workington and Harrogate have all been postponed in the past 10 days, are scheduled to host Hinckley United tomorrow.

The latest twist comes after a turbulent and traumatic nine months for fans.

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Celtic's troubles became public knowledge last summer when they entered administration just hours before facing a winding up order from the taxman over an unpaid bill of 200,000.

The club were expelled from the Conference a month later only to be reinstated and hit with a 10-point penalty.

Farsley, who were formed more than a century ago, wiped out the deficit before the end of August only for the gates of their Throstle Nest home to be padlocked following the collapse of an early bid by Palmer to buy the club.

It seemed like the end, only for the Celtic stalwart to win a reprieve 24 hours later when his offer was provisionally accepted by the administrators, who agreed he could run the club in the interim.

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That agreement was ended late last month after Mazars claimed Palmer's group, which won financial backing from Leeds City Council, had failed to come up with an acceptable offer.

It led to the games against AFC Telford, Workington and Harrogate being postponed, triggering three separate charges from Conference officials.

Last month, Chester City were expelled after failing to fulfil two fixtures and their results expunged from this season's records.

Farsley's financial problems followed a meteoric rise that saw the club achieve three promotion in four years to soar from the UniBond League First Division to the Conference for the first time in their history.

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However, they lasted just one season in the top flight of non-League football before being relegated in 2008. Last term, Celtic finished 19th, five points clear of the relegation zone in Conference North.

Regardless of the outcome of the talks between Mazars and the supporters club, Farsley's junior section, women's team and Leeds Carnegie Ladies will continue to use Throstle Nest.

Troubles encountered by other Yorkshire clubs

Bradford Park Avenue

Closed: Summer 1974.

Now play: UniBond First Division (North).

League position: 1st.


Closed: Summer 2007.

Now play: Northern Counties East League Premier Division.

League position: 5th.

Halifax Town

Closed: Summer of 2008.

Now play: UniBond First Division (North).

League position: 2nd.

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