JOHN Coleman is hoping the transfer embargo is going to be lifted in the next few days as he battles with his small squad during a crunch time for the club.

The Reds' new board of chairman Ilyas Khan, president Peter Marsden, general manager Dave O’Neill and chief executive Rob Heys are currently in talks about how to lift the embargo as Coleman’s squad battle with injuries.

There are two main problems - the club owe the Professional Football Association £50,000 and, while they owe this, they can only have 20 registered players at the club. At the moment they have 19.

This would free up one place for a goalkeeper which the Reds need as they only have Ian Dunbavin with league experience at the Crown Ground.

But the second hurdle is that a new ruling was introduced earlier this year by the Football League which said that clubs that have PAYE debt cannot register new players, extend loans or extend existing contracts.

When Accrington faced their winding up order of £308,000 in November - which was paid mainly from funds raised by fans and millionaire Khan - it was stated they still owed another £140,000 to the tax man and due to this, they cannot bring any players in until a substantial part of this is paid off.

"The Football League have been working closely with HMRC in recent months to prevent football clubs building up debts to the taxman," said chief executive Rob Heys.

"And as a result of this they now place a registration embargo on clubs who fall more than one month behind on their payments.

"As was stated in court earlier this month, we do owe some money to HMRC in this current tax year and so have become subject to this embargo.

"It is around £80,000 that needs paying immediately to lift this and in order to help John (Coleman) and Jimmy (Bell) this is our number one priority."

The main problem is the deadline for emergency loan signings is next Thursday (November 26) and so the club have to pay off these debts in the next few days if they are to boost their side.

"That is the problem as we need to do it quickly," added Heys. "But there is now money coming into the club. While there was a winding up order, there was about £80,000 funding held back for various activites within youth and community development.

"Despite this we still had to pay the wages of the youth staff, coaches and players, and fund the community department and their activities so, once that money comes in, it can come back into the club.

"There is also a boost in sponsorship although we have put off naming rights of the ground for now. We hope the club will go on and prosper and so we don’t want to tie ourselves up with a three- or five-year deal at the moment. We have big plans."

But more immediately, Coleman will be hoping that Stanley’s new-look board can get the embargo lifted in the next week. As well as having just one keeper, winger Chris Turner is out for the next six weeks with ligament damage.

Gary King, Peter Murphy and Chris King have six-month deals which run out on New Year’s Day and cannot be renewed if there is still an embargo on the club.

With an already slender squad, there are also fears higher league clubs may swoop to snap up in-form strikers Bobby Grant and Michael Symes in the January transfer window.

"We are hoping it is sorted out well before January," said Heys. "We know John and Jimmy need help with the team as soon as possible."

There is some good news on the squad though. Midfielder John Mullin could be ready for a start soon after a long-term ankle injury while Chris King (thigh) has returned to training and Leam¿Richardson, who has been sidelined all season with a pelvic, nerve and then hip injury, is expected back in training in the next couple of weeks.

But, with a tight schedule ahead, which now includes a huge tie at one-time Premier giants Leeds United in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Northern semi-finals, it means the players will be wrapped in cotton wool.

"You have to get on with it but I hope something is done soon," said the Reds boss.

"We desperately need a keeper. Bavs went down on Saturday against Dagenham and my heart was in my mouth - I thought he had broken his ankle so it’s a good job shin pads are made of the same material as rockets! We need goalkeeper cover as soon as possible.

"The deals are up for Peter, Chris and Gary on January 1 and we cannot renew them if we are still under a transfer embargo."

"But Chris (King) has started training again after a long lay-off and should be pushing for a start in the next few weeks while John Mullin is back in the squad.

"Chris Turner’s injury is a sickener for him and for us. He was just getting back into the team and we are disappointed for him.

"This is all part of football though - injuries and also the rumours that a few clubs are looking at our players. But I think that’s a good sign for us - it means we are doing the right things on the pitch.

"It has always been the same throughout my management career and you just have to deal with things.

"All I want is for Bobby Grant to keep playing well for himself and for us - and that’s the same for Michael Symes. Transfer talk is nothing new and I am not concerned."

Coleman was, in midweek, still getting over Stanley’s loss to table-topping Dagenham and Redbridge on Saturday which came thanks to Mark Arber’s header - heavily deflected by Symes.

"When I saw the goal again on television, it should have been an own goal as it wasn’t going in until the deflection," said Coleman. "Saying that, Michael should have been marking their player and, all in all, that result was annoying.

"I was looking at our results the other day against the top five and we have lost 1-0 to four of them - Dagenham, Bournemouth, Rotherham and Chesterfield and beat the other side, Rochdale.

"That shows we are not a million miles away from being a top side and we just to keep working hard and make sure we treat every game with equal importance."

And that starts tomorrow at 12th placed Bradford City, who are suffering a striker crises and were hoping to bring a frontman in ahead of the game at the Coral Windows Stadium.

"Bradford are a decent side but we have never lost there and we are keen to continue that run. We cannot allow them to get their tails up at home, though."

And, with the games coming thick and fast, on Tuesday is a clash against 17th placed Macclesfield Town with John Miles and Symes coming up against their former club.

There are usually goals in these game with 23 over the last six clashes between the sides.

"This will be tough." said Coleman. "They have surprised a few teams this season and have had some good results - like their draw at Aldershot on Saturday."


* IT IS believed that Dave O’Neill should finally own 51 per cent shares in Accrington Stanley in the next few days.

The general manager took over the club in July but the deal to take the majority shareholding off former chairman Eric Whalley was not fully completed, with Whalley still registered at Customs House with the shares.

But it’s believed the final payment will now be made leaving Whalley to concentrate on Chester City FC where he is Director of Football.

Chester owner Stephen Vaughan has been told he has to sell Chester within a month - and Whalley is a name in the frame. He would have to give up all his 51 per cent Stanley shares if he does take over at the Deva Stadium.


* THE Johnstone Paints Trophy Northern semi-final is at Elland Road on Tuesday 15 December, kick off 7.45pm. Admission is £10 for adults and concessions £5.
* EX- Reds Rommy Boco, Danny Ventre and manager Paul Cook are hoping to lead Sligo Rovers to victory in the FAI Cup final on Sunday against Sporting Fingal in Tallaght.
* THE Lancashire senior cup game against Bury was postponed on Wednesday night due to a waterlogged pitch.