Barely a month after their heroic last-ditch escape from relegation, Championship side Crystal Palace are hours away from going out of business.
A consortium of local business types called CPFC2010 has been trying to finagle a deal to buy the administration-wracked club, and last week believed that an agreement had been reached which would allow them to buy both Palace and Selhurst Park stadium, the latter of which is currently under the auspices of Bank of Scotland*.
However, HBOS are stalling, as their bean-counters have figured that a property development on the site of the ground would be far more profitable than a second-tier football team. An "anti-embarrassment clause" (sic) was added to the contract that would allow HBOS significant renumeration should the club "realise greater value" from the ground in later, more prosperous years, but neither side is able to agree on just what that sum should be.
CPFC2010 have called upon the Government to intervene, arguing that, as HBOS is a taxpayer-owned bank, they should be less concerned with profit and more concerned with ensuring a 100-year old football club with a sizeable supporter base survives. No word yet from Number 10, although David Cameron is a noted Aston Villa fan, and they have no particular rivalry with the Eagles, so he may be amenable to the idea.
However, they may not have enough time: administrator Brendan Guilfoyle has give the consortium until 3pm today to come to an agreement. If none is forthcoming, then the club will be liquidated and its assets flogged off in a fire sale, in a strange echo of Palace's Victorian namesake.
*Note: Original piece mistakenly said RBS were the creditor, instead of HBOS