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U's future to be decided

SPORTS Minister Richard Caborn fronted a summit meeting in London to discuss Cambridge United's future, warning: "No one will leave this building until we get a final decision."

The Sports Minister was holding talks with United Finance director Nick Pomery and administrator Ian Carr, along with HM Revenue & Customs and FA officials.
Cricis talks: Ian Carr & Nick Pomery
Cricis talks: Ian Carr & Nick Pomery

And when the sides in the dispute split for group talks on Monday after an hour - Caborn was needed for a vote in the Commons - he promised to return and vowed a verdict on the U's plight would be reached one way or another at his offices.

Caborn called the first face-to-face meeting between the parties late on Friday night after hopes of breaking the deadlock between the FA and the taxman had appeared to have fallen through after the latter rejected a brokered compromise deal.

Pomery had thought that United would have to resort to a final option, which is being kept under wraps, but he received a phone call at 10.30pm inviting him to Monday's meeting.

"He (Caborn) sees this as a bigger problem that needs attention, otherwise it could fester," said Pomery. "He sees we are a bit of a political football and if this does not get resolved then exactly the same will happen to other clubs.

"The key thing is they have been insistent on people who are decision-makers. He wants people who can agree to things."

The sticking point remains the £500,000 owed to the taxman, who are demanding all creditors are treated equally, while the football authorities demand their members are paid in full.

And the representative of one of the parties United will be hoping changes its stance has Cambridge connections.

United have been dealing with Jonathan Hall, the FA's director of governance, who is a Cambridge law graduate. He is responsible at the FA for a wide range of matters including discipline, compliance, financial advisory unit, registrations, competitions, refereeing and football administration.

While Pomery is hopeful the deadlock can be broken, efforts are continuing to find another way round their predicament.

"We have been ploughing on with the other option," he said.

"If Plan A does not come through then we will push on with Plan B. We have got a third option, which would be very difficult to put together, which is a total buy-out. We have to view that as a long shot.

"Paul Barry offered to work on ringing a number of people who might have an interest. If there's no alternative, there are people who might step forward, but I would not want to get people's hopes up on that."

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27 June 2005

First appeared in the Cambridge Evening News
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United in Crisis: In Depth