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By ESPN Staff

Southampton silent over Walcott payments

Cash-strapped Southampton are refusing to comment on reports claiming they have accepted an early payment from Arsenal for Theo Walcott to ease their immediate financial problems.

Walcott moved to Arsenal in January 2006 as a 16-year-old for an initial £5million fee which could have risen to £12million, based upon his progress.

But Saints are now thought to have accepted a total payment of £9.1million for the England striker - although the club have so far declined to confirm or deny the reports.

The Championship strugglers have managed to reduce their financial losses but continue to face an uncertain future, according to their latest half-year report.

In the six months ending December 31 2007, Saints' loss after tax was £700,000 despite a drop in revenue of more than £5million.

The majority of that improved figure came from the big-money sales of Kenwyne Jones to Sunderland and Chris Baird to Fulham.

In his financial statement, acting plc chairman Keith Wiseman said: 'The board confirms it is working closely with, and has the support of, its bankers.'

But the report warned of 'a material uncertainty which may cast doubt about the group's ability to continue as a going concern'.

The uncertainty at St Mary's deepened further this morning when Rupert Lowe and fellow former chairman Michael Wilde, who are still shareholders in the club, called for an extraordinary general meeting which could see them restored to the boardroom.

Southampton Leisure Holdings have confirmed they have received a requisition from Lowe, Wilde and Merlion Equities Ltd - who hold a 22.97% share in the company - to convene a meeting.

At the meeting the requisitionists will call for resolutions to be passed for the removal of current chairman Leon Crouch, operations director Lee Hoos, and directors Patrick Trant and Keith Wiseman and the appointment of Lowe, Wilde and Andrew Cowen to the board.

Southampton Leisure Holdings have also received letters from shareholders holding a further 20.31% indicating they would vote in favour of the resolutions proposed.

Last week Crouch said Lowe and Wilde were 'deluding themselves' if they were plotting a return to the club.