League orders inquiry into Saints finances

An independent inquiry has been commissioned into the finances of Southampton before a decision is made whether the club should be docked points, The English Football League said on Tuesday. The Championship club's parent company, Southampton Leisure Holdings, went into administration last week, prompting Tuesday's meeting of the Football League board. "The League board has instructed its legal advisors to commission an independent forensic accountancy report in order to clarify the legal and financial position of the club, as a matter of urgency," said a statement on the body's website. The Saints, who spent 27 years in the top flight before being relegated in 2005, are one place off the bottom in the Championship and facing relegation to the third tier of English football for the first time since 1960. They claim they should avoid an automatic 10-point penalty because the club itself is not in administration. Joint administrator Mark Fry has said the club is likely to fold before the end of the season if a buyer is not found, but added several potential investors had expressed an interest. In a statement on the club's website he said: "We are confident of a successful outcome because in our view no rules have been breached." However, the fact that the holding company has gone into administration has presented the League with a dilemma. It has recently penalised a number of clubs including Luton Town, Bournemouth and Darlington for going into administration and could face legal challenges from those clubs if it does not penalise Southampton as well.