York chairman to ITV Digital's rescue
Wednesday May 1, 2002
At seven o'clock this morning when ITV Digital switched off its pay channels, the Football League woke up its worst nightmare.
Without television money, a third of the league's 72 clubs faced the threat of closure with those that survived only doing so by tightening their belts to the point of self-asphyxiation.
But this morning York City, one of the clubs in crisis, came up with a novel way of avoiding disaster.
"I'll tell you how we're going to respond to ITV Digital," said club spokesperson James Richardson. "We're going to buy it."
York's chairman John Batchelor was in talks overnight with administrators preparing a bid for the ailing televsion company to keep it going.
"It is my intention to head up a bid for ITV Digital backed by a consortium of people from motor sport and football," Batchelor announced this morning.
Batchelor rescued York City from extinction this season when he stepped in at the last minute to buy the club which would have been forced to resign from the Football League if no buyer was found.
Now he is hoping he can save not only his own club, but everyone else's too.
"There is no reason why we can't make this work," he said.
"I need to act very quickly after talks with the administrators who said the company would otherwise be broken up very quickly."
It is not yet clear where Batchelor will find the money from, or indeed how much he will need. But he hinted that much of it would come from motorsport.
"It will be heavily funded from the motorsport side," he said. "I don't have the money required, but I do have the ability to bring people together who do."
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The war rages on but there is only one who will rise from the very ashes like the lengendry phoenix