WHILE Wrexham are defying the odds on the pitch, they are reeling from one blow after another off it.
As if the prospect of going into administration tomorrow was not bad enough for the beleaguered Dragons, they now face being kicked while they are down.
Not only would Wrexham become the first club to be docked 10 points - plunging them to third-bottom in the table, but regular cash payments from the Football League could also be withheld as a safeguard against the club failing to complete the season.
In the absence of a benefactor able to pay the Inland Revenue a substantial proportion of the near-£1m owed by Wrexham in respect of unpaid tax, tomorrow's High Court hearing in Manchester is set to appoint insolvency firm Begbies Traynor to run the club as a going concern.
Partner David Acland, who steered Chester City through administration five years ago, will then be running day-to-day affairs at the Racecourse, aided by colleague Steve Williams, who yesterday spelt out exactly what lies ahead.
"Our job is to try and salvage Wrexham as a going concern at the same time as maximising the return for creditors," he said. "If and when we take control, we are responsible for making payments against all future debts, while those incurred before Friday are put to one side with the aim of paying them in the future."
Based on forecasts already drawn up by the two men, Williams said he was confident the club could generate sufficient income from its ongoing operations to stay in business until the end of the season, although there would be ups and downs along the way.
The most recent major tranche of Football League money was frozen by the club's bank last month, and Williams said Wrexham could not yet be sure that further cash from the League and the FA - including the £75,000 Sky Television money due from tomorrow's FA Cup second round tie at Scunthorpe United - would be forthcoming in the short term.
"Because of the administration and insolvency policies adopted by the Football League, and to a lesser extent the FA, we have been given to under-stand the money we would normally receive automatically will be withheld until the end of the season," he added.. "That's not to say they can't be persuaded otherwise, and one of my first tasks on Friday will be to write to the Football League to ask them for a sympathetic consideration of the situation."
On a more optimistic note, Williams said the prospect of windfalls from Wrexham's LDV Vans Trophy and FA Cup campaigns had not been factored into the business forecasts, but he said it was vital that fans continued to back the club.
"If we can get the level of support the club has received in the past few weeks there won't be a problem," he added. "December is a good month because there are a number of home matches so there won ' t be much of an issue in paying what we have to.
"But we want fans to rally round. If the club is well-supported and can pay its way on gate receipts, the business is more likely to attract a buyer," he added.
"We can break even on gates of between 5,000 and 6,000 but we will be operating on a cash basis only, with no overdraft facility, so there may well be occasions when we'll need the directors to go out banging the drum for additional funds from supporters' organisations.. "And there will be times when we will be relying on the goodwill of the players and others, who may not get everything they are owed on the dates due because of the irregular cash-flow situation at the club."
With regard to the 10-point deduction - the first to be imposed since the Football League approved the sanction - Williams was keen to mount an appeal but estimated the cost of doing so was likely to be between £15,000 and £20,000, which the club could ill-afford.
"It's going to be difficult to argue that Wrexham's Inland Revenue debt was due to either unavoidable or unforseeable circumstances but we are looking at ways in which it may be challenged," he said..
"It's attractive as a ground-breaking test case but member clubs may frown upon us contesting the deduction rule, while at the same time asking them to bend their rules so that we get our scheduled payments on time. But if anyone out there is willing to fund the costs of an appeal, we would certainly consider going down that route."
Williams was more circumspect with regard to the administrators' role in investigating the cause of Wrexham's current problems.
"We have sweeping and wide-ranging powers in respect of prior business dealings and the conduct of directors," he said. "There are several issues which have been brought to our attention by interested parties and we have the authority both to investigate and challenge any transactions if they have been to the detriment of creditors.
"But what we are seeking to achieve is a consensual solution of the club's problems with the agreement of creditors and shareholders. Hopefully, there's a deal to be done and we are confident somewhere along the way that deal will be done."
* VETERAN goalkeeper Andy Dibble played his first competitive game since September as Wrexham Reserves slipped to a 3-2 Pontins League defeat to Carlisle United at the Racecourse last night.
The 39-year-old stopper significantly raised the average age of a Dragons side composed mainly of youth team players and used his voice more than his hands or feet to shepherd his young charges through a tough test against bigger and more experienced opponents.
Wrexham scored through well-worked goals from trialists Matt Shaw and Callum Flanagan, who was recently released by Manchester United. A Wrexham fan surverys the Racecourse (main) with the club set to be taken over by administrator David Acland (inset)