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NTL Hell!

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 15/07/2002

NTL, the US communications company who are currently involved in bankruptcy proceedings in the States, need to find £5m on Friday as their monthly payment to the Football League as part of the deal to provide the official web sites of the majority of the Nationwide clubs.

Industry insiders have been speculating that the company, who are £17bn in debt, may struggle to find the money to pay the Nationwide clubs, which would be another crippling blow after the recent collapse of ITV Digital. NTL are not expected to be exercising the option to appear on the Rangers and Celtic strips when their existing deal with the Old Firm clubs expires at the end of this coming season, indicating their need to trim unnecessary costs from their balance sheet.

It would also be likely to trigger a mass switch of TV and 'phone services from NTL by disgruntled football fans, who have been boycotting ITV Digital's parent companies Carlton and Granada, who still owe the league £178m for the two years left on their television rights contract.

NTL's Internet deal, which like the ITV Digital contract, was signed at a time when tech companies were quoted at unrealistic prices on the Stock Market, is understood to be a huge loss maker for the troubled telecoms company.

With Grimsby's perilous financial situation, the collapse of the league's lucrative Internet deal with the US company would be a further blow to the club, which could spark the sale of even more players, and put the Mariners a step closer to going into administration.



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