A rift has opened up between North End manager Billy Davies and the board after he was told he would have to sell players to overcome the club's debt.

Club chairman Derek Shaw stated on Monday that after losses of nearly £900,000 last year the club "has to be realistic and accept that to remain financially viable .... losses would have to financed by player sales".

Shaw added that "contrary to the belief of some fans the money from the sale of Richard Cresswell is not waiting to be spent".

The statement continued that losses would increase if the present squad was maintained without any improvement in attendances although a good FA Cup run could improve the situation. Davies said he felt this contradicted assurances he was given by the board when he signed a new contract in the summer.

The outburst, has prompted speculation that Davies could walk out of Deepdale. It is the first public clash since he was appointed 13 months ago.

Shaw was yesterday unavailable for comment on Davies' remarks.

Davies said: "I'm very disappointed in the statement and with the strategy of the club. In the summer I laid my position on the line and it was my understanding that we would be trying to improve on last season, we would be trying to fill the gaps we had from last season and take it that one stage further, so I'm very disappointed. The board's objectives have altered since the summer and the negotiations, there's no doubt about it, and I think also the financial objectives have altered slightly, and from that point we're obviously disappointed."

Both Davies and Shaw agreed however that the hunt for new players was ongoing, with Blackburn striker Matt Jansen recently turning down a loan move to Deepdale.

Postings on independent internet fan sites seem to split between supporting the manager and the chairman, although many stated they feel let down by Davies' comments. The row comes during a week which North End expected to be pretty quiet, with several players away on international duty, including Callum Davidson, as reported in last week's Citizen.

North End took the day off training on Tuesday to hold a golf day in Clitheroe to mark Paul McKenna's testimonial year.