THE threat of immediate extinction hanging over York City was lifted today, with the Supporters' Trust raising more than £50,000 in 72 hours to keep the club in business.

It is estimated that a staggering £20,000 was raised in bucket collections alone on Saturday - before, during and after the Minstermen's 1-1 draw with Bury at Bootham Crescent - as supporters rallied to save their club.

Some £25,000 had been banked by the trust in the previous 24 hours, when it was announced £60,000 was needed by today to keep the club trading until March 15.

It is hoped the trust's takeover deal for City will be completed by that date.

money continued to pour into the trust's coffers yesterday and today, which could see the whirlwind cash appeal reach its target.

The fans' body is confident the imminent threat of oblivion has now been extinguished.

Trust spokesman Steve Beck hailed the passion and commitment.

"It has been an overwhelming response, not just from City fans, but from football supporters around the country and beyond," he said.

A number of bucket collections were held at rival club grounds. Supporters from AFC Wimbledon raised more than £2,000 for the trust, while Sunderland fans put aside their relegation fears to donate another £2,000.

A statement from the fans' body said: "Trust officials are now confident that the imminent threat of extinction can be lifted, providing time for the trust's offer to acquire the business and assets to be progressed by the administrator.

"The Trust's offer is the only offer to rescue the club."

Talks between the trust and the administrator will now be held to plot the way forward for the club.

The statement added: "Once that is established, the trust's focus will move towards the funding of the actual rescue package itself.

"There are still various hurdles to overcome, and the work to save City is far from over, but the money raised over the past few days can provide a vital lifeline to the club."

Today's statement from the trust follows an announcement from the fans' body which was read-out by Robert Havercroft during Saturday's half-time.

It urged fans who have pledged £200,000 to fund the Trust's rescue package to turn their promises into cash. At least £150,000 is required by March 15 to enable the Trust to buy the club.

Mr Havercroft explained the club's 25-year lease to play at Bootham Crescent was replaced in April 2002 by a lease that expires in June 2003.

He said the Trust was trying to seek a solution with Bootham Crescent Holdings, the ground's owners, but no agreement had yet been achieved.

He confirmed Evening Press reports that the trust had also held talks with a northern-based businessman who is looking to build a new ground.

But Mr Havercroft warned: "The ground issue will be an irrelevance if there is no football club. Therefore, the Trust's main focus is to save the club from extinction."

Earlier in the afternoon, hundreds of City fans gathered outside the Minster for an impromptu meeting detailing the football club's plight.

Club president and Ryedale MP John Greenway told the crowd: "I'm sad and angry that after all this time we're left with a situation in which only the Supporters' Trust has a viable bid on the table."

Two police officers were cheered as they put cash into the donation boxes.

Updated: 11:09 Monday, February 24, 2003