York City Football Club have just five weeks to find a buyer or face going bankrupt following a court hearing today.

The stark reality of the worsening situation at the Bootham Crescent club hit home yesterday when the club applied to go into voluntary administration.

It means that the home match against Swansea City on January 18 could be the last for the club.

Lawyers from insolvency experts Jackson, Jolliffe, Cork - who had been assisting chairman John Batchelor for the past two weeks - attended a hearing at Leeds Combined Courts today.

Their application was heard by Judge Christopher McGonigal, sitting as a High Court judge.

The administrator, Matthew Bowker, of Jackson, Jolliffe, Cork - was handed an extended five-week period to find a buyer for the Division Three promotion-chasers.

If a buyer was not found, the club would face being wound up.

David Hinchcliffe, solicitor for the administrator, said: "The cash flow gives us five weeks to try to sell this club. Unless we secure other money for a purchaser, then the directors will probably have no option than to put the club into liquidation."

Rumours began circulating late yesterday afternoon that City, who are reportedly losing £20,000 a week, had reached the brink, and although there was no official confirmation from the club, they had been listed to appear in court today.

The court in Leeds heard today that York City lost more than £100,000 when ITV Digital collapsed earlier this year.

Hugh Jory, the club's barrister, was giving details of the financial difficulties which led it to seek an administration order.

He revealed that one of the reasons for seeking the order was to enable the club to continue to play at Bootham Crescent, because it would lose its lease if it was wound up.

He added that the club had tax and VAT arrears.

Mr Hinchcliffe appealed outside court for would-be purchasers, including consortiums, to come forward.

"We must find a purchaser," he said.

Mr Jory had told the judge that there were "expressions of interest", which the club hoped would turn into purchasers.

Mr Hinchcliffe told the Evening Press that the players had performed "fantastically" and put their weight behind the club in the last few months despite its financial difficulties, and thanked the PFA who had paid their wages for two months.

The Evening Press has also been informed that the players - who received their wages from the Players' Football Association last month after being told by York City's chief executive, Keith Usher, and Supporters' Trust member Steve Beck that the club was not in a position to pay them - will again not receive any money this month.

The players attended a meeting with the PFA yesterday afternoon when they were given the blunt facts that they must accept that they would not be paid this month or the club would be liquidated.

However, further discussions between the club and the player were planned for today.

The news is the latest off-the-field blow for the club in the past 12 months.

The club were put up for sale by then chairman Douglas Craig on December 20 last year.

Mr Craig, who is the chairman of Bootham Crescent Holdings - the owners of City's ground - came under heavy fire from all sections of supporters for his actions, especially concerning the splitting of the ground away from the ownership of the club.

However, although Mr Batchelor stepped in to buy the club - with the promise of brighter days and a new stadium on the horizon - things have seemingly gone from bad to worse.

Despite his rebranding exercise and the belief that several big money sponsorship deals were in the pipeline, Batchelor has failed to stop the club haemorrhaging cash at an alarming rate.

Ironically, the problems have come when City are playing perhaps their best football for the past few seasons, with a victory on Friday against Lincoln City pushing the Minstermen into an automatic promotion spot.

Updated: 17:19 Wednesday, December 18, 2002