French retail giant Decathlon is believed to be weighing up a bid for JJB Sports.
But analysts say any rescuer is likely to consider placing the firm into administration to avoid paying debts and to allow them to close poorly performing stores.
Otherwise bids for the firm will need to be as much as £35million to pay off lenders, including Adidas, US retailer Dicks and banks.
The company had a market value of just £1.6million on Friday, but City scribblers believe it is worthless. Dicks is the most likely rescuer, having already ploughed £20million into the firm this year.
Troubled retailer: JJB Sports has appointed KPMG to find buyers
However, former owner Dave Whelan and rivals Sports Direct and JD Sports are sizing up the best-performing shops as part of a possible break-up.
The retailer has appointed corporate adviser KPMG to find buyers. It is also rumoured that former chief executive Chris Ronnie has indicated to associates that he might try to buy the chain, but he could not be reached for comment.