Crisis-hit Leicester were today placed in the hands of administrators by a High Court judge to allow breathing space while the rescue bid launched by Gary Lineker is being considered.
Mr Justice Park said the alternative of putting the club companies into liquidation would be “a disaster”.
“I am sure everybody hopes that Leicester City keep playing,” he said after a brief hearing in London.
The judge was not told of the rescue plan being put together by Lineker, but he said he had “read this morning’s papers”.
Lineker, dismayed by the failing fortunes of his home-town club since they dropped out of the Premiership last season, has rallied support from a group of local businessmen – including current Leicester City plc chairman Greg Clarke and club chairman Martin George – to form a new consortium to save the club.
The consortium are understood to have received a favourable response from administrators, whose duty it is to ensure that any rescue bid is a financially sound proposition.
Lineker is also backed by Carphone Warehouse chief operating officer David Ross and Jon Holmes of SFX.
The consortium’s objective is to buy Leicester City as a going concern from the administrators.
Twelve MPs have signed a Commons motion tabled by the Labour MP for Leicester East, Keith Vaz, welcoming the bid by the Lineker consortium.
Administration orders were made in respect of Leicester City Football Club plc, holding company Leicester City plc and the owner of the club’s ground, Leicester City Developments Ltd.
Their counsel, Lloyd Tamlyn, said they had originally faced a winding-up petition presented by football agent Eric Hall, but he had agreed to administration after the companies acknowledged he was owed a debt.
Liquidation would be “catastrophic” for the team, he said, because they would be unable to continue playing and the club would be thrown out of the League. This would have a knock-on effect on the other companies.
Attempts by Leicester to enter into deals and restructure the companies’ finances had got nowhere, and the companies therefore needed the protection of administration.
Sufficient bank funding was available to keep the business going for six to eight weeks while the administrators sought to sell it.
The judge agreed administration orders were necessary if the club were to carry on playing their fixtures, while longer-term arrangements were put in place to ensure “a more enduring survival”.