FARNBOROUGH Football Club is on a financial knife-edge following last week's dramatic departure of owner and manager Graham Westley.

Those left in charge fear that the angry backlash over Westley's walk-out could result in him pulling the plug on the club's sponsor, the Aimita Corporation, which he owns.

And without that money the Conference club, which rarely has more than 800 spectators at its home matches, would almost certainly collapse.

Worried general manager Vince Williams pleaded on Monday for the fans to stop criticising Westley for leaving the club only four days after its glamour FA Cup tie with holders Arsenal.

Westley has come in for a torrent of abuse, much of it in phone calls to his home, following his departure to manage Conference strugglers Stevenage.

Williams said: "The bitterness being shown towards Graham Westley and Aimita is not helpful in the current circumstances.

"The negative backlash which is going on at present could put the club in jeopardy. If Aimita pull out, then there could be some serious problems."

According to Williams, the fans are being unfair in their attitude to the 34-year-old former owner-manager. He said Westley had rescued the club from bankruptcy when he took over, and he also aimed to leave the club with no debts or liabilities.

It is understood he intends to use some of the estimated £600,000 receipts from the Arsenal match to pay outstanding bills.

"I can fully understand why Graham left," said Vince. "There was a lack of support and facilities at Farnborough."

In the meantime Williams, company secretary Richard Robinson and director Ron Berry are trying desperately to stabilise the club, which has been left with a shoestring budget for its day-to-day running costs.

Their top priority is to slash the club's crippling wage bill. Four players, Steve Watson, Michael Warner, Gary Holloway and Barry Laker, followed Westley to Stevenage.

Two more, Justin Gregory and Nathan Bunce, quit the club soon after, and Williams warned that more would follow. "They won't necessarily be going to Stevenage," he added.

It means that, within a very short time, the team which brought the club FA Cup glory will have been decimated.

Ian McDonald, former Hampton and Richmond manager, has been brought in as caretaker-manager until the end of the season.

His short-term reign got off to a winning start last Saturday with a 3-2 away victory over Telford in the FA Trophy.

The club's reward is a home tie against high flying Conference rivals Halifax on February 22.

To add to Farnborough fans' joy, Westley's Stevenage were dumped out of the tournament 3-0 by Dr Martens League leaders Telford.