UPDATE: Was Spice Girls Split In The Cards?

As the long-term future of the Spice Girls' music empire is left in question after Ginger Spice Geri Halliwell's departure, the group's lawyers and financial managers are now attempting to hold the Spice World together, a world which appeared to be increasingly strained in the weeks leading up to the break.

Sunday's split (see our initial report, "NEWS FLASH: Geri Halliwell Quits Spice Girls") only confirmed suspicions which had been mounting all week, both before and after Halliwell's no-show on a British lottery TV show.

"The London Sun" and other press sources reported that there had been a "blazing row" and described the girls as having an airport "tiff" followed by "sniping" on the plane and "flouncing off" after landing. Stories circulated that Halliwell was conferring with TV and movie agents followed by reports that she was retaining her own PR person and legal counsel.

When she failed to appear with the band

Wednesday in London, and Thursday and Friday for concerts in Norway, "The Daily Mirror" reported that Halliwell had walked out on the band and had left the country for an undisclosed location. Spokespeople for the group, however, steadfastly claimed that Halliwell's absence was due to exhaustion and a stomach ache, and denied reports of a split.

Rumors of dissension had been dogging the Spice Girls since they fired manager Simon Fuller last September and began handling their own careers. Halliwell appeared to be at the helm, although the girls later told a TV audience (unconvincingly) that Posh Spice Victoria Adams had been the ringleader leading up to the decision to fire Fuller.

The lawyers are currently hammering out the financial details of the pop music divorce. "The Mirror" reports that the girls own equal shares in Spice Girls Ltd, which owns the right to the band's name and image, and all five share songwriting credits on their major hits.

According to the

paper, The Spice Girls made $88 million US last year, Fuller was paid $25 million and the band split the rest to give them total personal fortunes of close to $30 million each. Their pending 40-city tour is expected to pull in another $10 million.