on the net By Stuart Amos Sutton United face a David versus Goliath struggle to avoid a £30,000 hole in their budget for the forthcoming Ryman League Premier Division campaign, according to chairman Bruce Elliott.

A lucrative pre-season friendly with Premier League Fulham at Gander Green Lane has been shelved by the Cottagers, despite the clash being part of the deal that saw Stefan Payne switch to Craven Cottage last season.

Payne, who has since joined League Two Gillingham, secured his dream move in September last year, but the deal has turned into a nightmare for Sutton who had budgeted on a 3,500 gate for the match.

The agreement, which also saw Sutton receive an up front £25,000 transfer fee, stipulated a Fulham first team would play boss Paul Doswell’s men in two pre-season friendlies over the next two years

If the game is cancelled, Elliott is looking for a compensation package that will at least cover the expected shortfall and he is prepared to take legal action if necessary.

“There is just about enough time to organise a game, but it doesn’t seem likely now. We are still waiting for a response,” he said.

“It is extremely disappointing. You draw up budgets based on these sort of things and I would have said a figure of £30,000 would not have been wide of the mark in terms of the income generated from that game.

“Suitable compensation is now the more realistic outcome, but it is a shame for the players and the local community to miss out on this occasion.

“It is not right. If a team four or five leagues below us had organised a deal in this way, there is no question we would honour that agreement.

“I couldn’t fault them as a club when they signed Stefan, but they seem to have switched off.”

Fulham, currently without a manager since Roy Hodgson’s departure to Liverpool, insist they have done their best to accommodate the game and seem set on wriggling out of their commitment.

A club spokesman said: “The contract stipulated we would endeavour to find a mutually convenient date, and this has proved difficult to coordinate due to the other games that we had already scheduled.

“We are obviously disappointed that it has not proved possible to facilitate.”

But Elliott, who hopes Wednesday's clash with Crystal Palace can still be a money-spinner, insists their best efforts have not been good enough and he has a rock solid case.

“As far as I can see there are still gaps in their pre-season schedule and understandably we would move heaven and earth to try and come up with a solution. They haven't even offered us a date,” he added.

“We have forwarded the original contracts to the FA and will be asking for their advice. Legal action is a very last resort and I hope that it doesn’t come to that.

“We don’t deserve this.”

Meanwhile, Doswell has completed the signing of former Leyton Orient defender Simon Downer.