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Two days after the Premiership went money mad at the end of the transfer window penniless Doncaster Belles, England's most famous women's football club, are set to be shut down unless an eleventh-hour cash injection can be found.
After coming to the end of a successful partnership arrangement with their major sponsor of the last four years the Belles have plunged into a financial crisis that has put them on the brink of bankruptcy.
Chairman Jonathan James revealed last night: "We are absolutely desperate. We will have to shut the club down after Sunday's match with Arsenal unless we can somehow bring some cash into the club this week.
"At this point we haven't even got the money to cover the cost of hiring a coach to get us down to Arsenal. It's an incredible irony that men's Premiership clubs have been spending countless millions on transfers this week and we can't raise £500 for coach hire."
Donny's annual running costs are around £65,000. So unless they can immediately find sponsors willing to finance around £60,000 a year on top of their own fundraising efforts the club will have to fold. But they have been living hand to mouth and have stayed afloat since the start of the season only through loans from treasurer Kevin Harrison and manager John Buckley.
Former Doncaster Rovers and Rotherham United winger Buckley said: "It would be a catastrophe to see the name Doncaster Belles go out of existence.
"The club will be 40 years old in January, and with the best side we've had for some years we had hoped to be celebrating the anniversary in style. Now it looks as though we won't even get to be 40."
The news of Donny's demise will stun the women's football world and will throw the Premier League into disarray if the club has to drop out of the league just weeks into the new campaign.
But James added: "We've been working very hard to bring finance in but it's proved impossible to get the sort of money we need to continue running a Premier League team.
"Doncaster Council and the council's Stadium Management Committee are working with us and we've also had offers of help from Doncaster Rovers and Doncaster College, but the cash that could be brought in through their efforts can't be raised until at least the end of the month and that will be too late.
"What we need is a sponsor whose funding can kick in immediately and can then help finance us through the rest of this season and hopefully for a few more seasons to come."
For further information please contact Paul Green club secretary (07966) 163968 or view the Belles website at www.doncasterroversbelles.co.uk for more information.
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