Flat-lining attendances and rising costs are blamed for locking six English league clubs into a cycle of serious financial distress, a report has warned.

The Birmingham-based Begbies Traynor Red Flag Alert Football Distress Report monitors the financial distress in football clubs.

Latest figures show that six clubs in the Championship and Leagues One and Two are facing ‘critical’ financial pressure, although the firm refused to reveal all of the clubs on its list.

Begbies Traynor partner Gerald Krasner, who has been a joint administrator of both AFC Bournemouth and Port Vale, said: “The relative fortunes of those at the very top and those at the foot of the league are getting further and further apart.

"Weaker clubs that are just staggering through the season are now locked into an inevitable downward spiral.”

The number of distressed clubs includes Coventry City, following its well-publicised administration and row over Ricoh Stadium ownership according to the report.

“If these clubs are cash strapped now, then they are likely to be in more trouble after the next transfer window, when the bank balances are at their lowest, unless directors show prudence and continue to curb the spending and manage costs sensibly,” said Mr Krasner.

Attendances across the English league showed little improvement so far this season when averaged across all divisions, rising just two per cent.

The average gate at a Premier League fixture increased by three per cent to nearly 36,500, but Championship clubs reported average attendances falling by seven per cent.

This was largely due to the relegation of Wolves, whose strong supporter base has boosted average gates by 20 per cent in League One since the club’s relegation into the third tier.