York City today made a strident plea to fans who have bought cut-price season tickets for the 2003-2004 campaign to help ease the club's financial burden.

So far, around 30 per cent of supporters who took up former chairman John Batchelor's offer have come forward and given a donation to the cash-strapped club.

The club's communications director Sophie McGill said the fact around a third of fans had already made a voluntary contribution was pleasing.

But she urged the remaining fans to do likewise.

She said: "This is absolutely essential and important income for the club.

"The finances are so very tight and that has been made clear by the release of eight players.

"We really do need all fans who took up John Batchelor's offer to contribute."

City are currently battling to overcome the money problems caused by Batchelor's decision to sell season tickets for the upcoming campaign at half-price.

Batchelor claimed a sponsorship deal was helping fund the offer and around 1,000 fans bought the cut-price tickets last autumn.

However, no sponsorship deal was ever announced leaving the club's new owners facing a £200,000 shortfall in income this summer - the sum they could have expected to bank had they been able to sell the tickets at full price.

Batchelor has since pledged to pay £85,000 to help soften that blow and in the wake of the fan take-over supporters who bought their tickets at half-price were asked to make a voluntary cash contribution to further ease the situation.

The Treasury has moved to defend the treatment of York City by the taxman.

In a letter to Ryedale MP and City president John Greenway, Dawn Primarolo MP, the Paymaster General at the Treasury, said the Inland Revenue's actions as the club teetered on the brink of extinction were justified.

As reported in the Evening Press, City suffered torment in March as the Supporters' Trust's proposed take-over of the football club was thrown into turmoil time and again.

A crunch meeting of creditors was adjourned no fewer than five times as the tax authorities pondered what was an acceptable return.

To make matters worse, it emerged that as the Inland Revenue settled for 63p in the £1 from City yet it had also agreed to just 35p in the £1 with the administrators at Barnsley.

It has also been reported Port Vale settled with the Revenue at 32p in the £1, while Leicester City were required to pay only 10p in the £1.

The confusion and uncertainty prompted Greenway, the shadow minister for sport and tourism, to write to Primarolo pleading for some common ground rules on how the Inland Revenue deals with football clubs in administration in the future.

In her reply, Primarolo said each case had to be considered on its merits.

"It is simply not appropriate to set an arbitrary level of return, which every club in this situation must meet, since it could not take into account an individual club's circumstances.

"The facts in each case tend to be very different; the policies which the Revenue adopts are not."


Updated: 11:47 Wednesday, May 21, 2003