Shares suspended in Saints parent company

Southampton's parent company will not be able to continue as a viable business unless it secures financing quickly, the English Championship club said on Wednesday.

Southampton Leisure Holdings Plc, which is listed on London's junior AIM stock market, said trading in its shares would be halted while it talks to a number of parties about an urgent injection of finance.

It said unless it secured new funding, it would not be able to continue as a viable business for the next 12 months.

The club, second from bottom of the standings, only survived relegation on the final day of last season and have sold some of their best players, including Theo Walcott to Arsenal and Gareth Bale to Tottenham Hotspur, in recent years.

Southampton, who beat Manchester United in the 1976 FA Cup final, moved into their new St Mary's Stadium in 2001, built for 32 million pounds, and reached the Cup final again in 2003 as well as finishing eighth in the Premier League.


They were relegated in 2005, ending a 27-year stay in the top flight, and despite reaching the playoffs in 2007 Southampton's fortunes on and off the pitch have continued to wane.

The club's parent company is heavily indebted because of the cost of building the 30,000-seater stadium, The Times in London reported on Wednesday.

The newspaper added that the company owed Norwich Union about 24 million pounds for the stadium and had exceeded a four million pounds overdraft from Barclays. Barclays is reported to have refused to offer more finance.

Should the club go into administration before the end of the season the team would have points deducted under Football League rules, although they would escape a points penalty if only the parent company entered administration.

Southampton Leisure said due to the funding issues it was not able to publish its half yearly earnings, resulting in the suspension of the trading of its shares which had plunged on Tuesday to an all-time low of 9.50 pence.