Third Place Winner, December 2011 Photo Contest
Teams: West Brom and Arsenal. Dallas Cowboys.
The prospect of a transfer embargo being placed on Coventry City is looming large after the club's chairman failed to guarantee that the latest tranche of transfer money for Lee Hughes would be paid.
Coventry still owe £3million on the £5m fee agreed with West Bromwich Albion for the striker's services 12 months ago.
But Baggies officials are becoming increasingly concerned that the next £1.5m instalment - due in little over a fortnight - will not be paid. With Coventry's debts running at around £30m, the chances of that cash being handed over appear to be slim and, asked directly whether the money would be forthcoming, chairman Mike McGinnity was unable to make West Brom any promises. 'Our financial situation is being kept in-house,' he said. 'If West Brom have any problems thinking that we won't be able to pay the next sum of money they are due for Lee Hughes, they should get in touch with us and we will discuss the matter privately.'
West Brom officials were alerted to the potential problems after summer sales failed to make any in-roads into Coventry's debilitating liabilities. When Gary McAllister was appointed manager, McGinnity confirmed that the Sky Blues would have to sell during the close season. However, the club's three main
assets - Hughes, goalkeeper Magnus Hedman and former Liverpool midfielder David Thompson - have not been moved on.
That has set alarm bells ringing over at The Hawthorns. Officials there more than raised an eyebrow when it seemed that McAllister's proposed purchase of Motherwell defender Eric Demouleaux floundered last month due to problems over
the £50,000 transfer fee.
If Coventry fail to make the payment, West Brom will make a formal complaint to the Premier League and Nationwide League, which will have no option but to impose a ban on City regarding in-coming transfers.
In another kick-in-the-teeth, they will also forgo their right to the £600,000 TV money the club was due to receive from Sky. That will not even enter the Highfield Road coffers and will be diverted instead to The Hawthorns. Future television income would go the same way until the debt is cleared.
One answer would be to give Hughes away on a free transfer back to his old club
- but even that option is fraught with problems.
The 26-year-old currently earns £17,000-a-week - more than three times his salary while at The Hawthorns - and will need a substantial pay-off on the remaining three years of his contract.
West Brom boss Gary Megson, who finally committed himself to the club by signing a three-year contract yesterday, is known to still be keen on the ginger-haired forward. But he may baulk at the £3m 'fee' - the net cost to West Brom if they write off the money owed to them by Coventry.
Meanwhile, Megson has admitted his interest in South African international Macbeth 'Khetho' Sibaya.
The midfielder, who appeared in all his country's World Cup matches, is due for talks this weekend.