31 parties interested in Southampton

The administrators running ailing English Championship Southampton said on Thursday that 31 parties had expressed an interest in buying the club. The Saints' parent company Southampton Leisure Holdings went into administration last week with reported debts of 27.5 million pounds. The Football League is considering whether to penalise the club 10 points which would result in their almost certain relegation to the third tier of English football for the first time in 49 years. The League has set up an independent inquiry into Southampton's finances before deciding whether to penalise them. However, co-administrator Mark Fry told the local Daily Echo newspaper on Thursday that a number of potential buyers have come forward in an attempt to save the club, who reached the FA Cup final in 2003. Fry said: "These things can take a bit of time and we have a while to see if anything comes from them," adding that they should know by the middle of next week if any of the bids are viable. Southampton spent 27 years in the top flight until they were relegated from the Premier League in 2005. They are second from bottom in the Championship, three points from safety with six matches to play.