D-day for Saints as League meets

Jonathan Redhead All Norwich City eyes will be glued to Southampton today in what could be a tumultuous Tuesday in the battle to stay in the Coca-Cola Championship. Tonight the struggling Saints travel to Watford, to play their game in hand on the Canaries and victory at Vicarage Road would take them level on points with Bryan Gunn's men near the bottom of the table, although they would not escape the drop zone.

Jonathan Redhead

All Norwich City eyes will be glued to Southampton today in what could be a tumultuous Tuesday in the battle to stay in the Coca-Cola Championship.

Tonight the struggling Saints travel to Watford, to play their game in hand on the Canaries and victory at Vicarage Road would take them level on points with Bryan Gunn's men near the bottom of the table, although they would not escape the drop zone.

But before they even kick-off, the Saints could find themselves all but relegated as the Football League meets to discuss what to do with the club in light of last week's revelation that their parent company Southampton Leisure Holding plc, has gone into administration with debts of �27.5m.


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To date, the south coast outfit has escaped the usual ten-point deduction, as the club itself is not in administration, but that could change when league bigwigs decide what punishment, if any, the Saints should face for their financial failings.

If the club is deducted points then this evening's game in Hertfordshire could become academic - and City's own fight against the drop will receive a healthy boost.

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With Charlton Athletic seemingly destined for life in League One next season, a points deduction of any sort for the Saints would make it extremely difficult for them to fight their way out of danger too.

Currently, they are second bottom, and three points behind City and safety.

However, Saints' boss Mark Wotte, who was sent to the stands in the final minutes of the 3-2 defeat to Charlton at St Mary's on Saturday, believes the club should escape punishment.

“It is a legal issue and the rules are very clear,” said the Belgian.

“The football club Southampton is not in administration and I don't expect any points to be deducted. That's what I am being told from people that have read the rules.”

But a win for his side tonight and a let-off from the league would change the mood around St Mary's and add to the pressure for Gunn's men too.

Saints midfielder Paul Wotton says his side must win tonight.

“We have to win, it's a simple as that,” the former Plymouth player said. “It's too early to say who will be relegated because every team involved in it becomes edgy, so the more teams that are in it the better for us.

“We can make a big statement on Tuesday and make sure that it is certainly more than two from three.”

And things could get worse for City tonight as Barnsley, one place and two points above them in the league, could do themselves a power of good as they tackle Sheffield United in a south Yorkshire derby at Bramall Lane.

Three points for Simon Davey's men, who have two games in hand on the Canaries, would move them six clear of the drop zone and out of immediate danger in the battle to stay in the division.

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