Another HMRC winding-up order
Posted by John Beech on July 8, 2009
This time it’s Rushden & Diamonds (1), for an as yet unspecified sum.
The club blames massive overheads on their stadium, sponsors not meeting their commitments, and little interest accruing out of capital invested. Hmmm.
The club’s stadium at Nene Park in Irthlingborough was opened in 1969 and comprised Irthlingborough Diamond’s ‘dowry’ at their ‘marriage’ to Rushden Town in 1992. It was then redeveloped, in a spirit of optimism for the future, and understandably, certainly at the time, incorporated conference and hospitality facilities. It is not so much that the overheads are the problem; it is the diminishing revenues with which to service the overheads that is the problem. An average gate of 4,457 in 2003/04 has dwindled to 1,609 in the season just finished, in no small part due to relegation back to the Conference in 2005 (figures from the invaluable website of the late Tony Kempster). That summer owner Max Giggs handed over control to the Supporters Trust, at just about the worst time for an incoming management team to take over. In short the Trust inherited a stadium that was over-specified for their needs (tell Darlington fans about that!). In 2006 the Trust handed over to Keith Cousins, a former Vice Chairman of Peterborough United, who injected funding.
Sponsors not meeting their obligations seems the most understandable of the stated reasons. Shirt sponsors are Haart estate agents; I can find no confirmation of my speculation that it refers to them, but their sector is not enjoying a healthy phase to say the least. (I’m happy to set the record straight if I am wrong in suggesting that it might be Haart that is being referred to.)
The reference to poor interest rates I find hard to make sense of. If the club has the kind of deposits that provide sufficient return in happier times to cover their tax liabilities, why can they not see off (or indeed have pre-empted) a winding-up order with a small dip into these deposits? Again, I would be happy to publish the comment of someone better informed on the club’s finances than me.
Whatever the circumstances and the reasons, it is a depressingly familiar tale of a club failing to pay taxes. When will they learn that HMRC is unforgiving?