HMRC’s latest activity and other traumas
Posted by John Beech on July 1, 2010
You keep off the internet for the best part of ten days, come home, and, bingo! HMRC have been at it again.
First they’ve been revisiting some familiar league faces:
- Grays Athletic
The club has been given a stay of execution of 98 (yes, that’s right, 98) days over the undisclosed debt to HMRC debt (1).
The even more pressing issue for the club is where they are going to be playing next season. The local Council is showing some positive signs (2) of being prepared to help, but time is running out.
- Preston North End
Having just fought off one winding-up petition from HMRC, a new one has been served (3), for an only slightly lower sum of £435,000 (4).
The closing date for the Deepdale PNE Holdings offer to shareholders is July 7th (5).
- Southend United
An annual loss of £2m, and total debts of £7.7m, (in a club now in League 2) reported in May had prompted the club to announce that “the club is confident it has solid building blocks in place for future success and these will improve the performance of the club in the coming years” (6). Whether one of these blocks was a loan from the Shrimpers Trust for £60,000, now overdue for repayment, is not clear. Meanwhile players were repeatedly paid late, and key players were departing as a result.
Yesterday the club was hit with a double whammy – winding-up petitions from HMRC and from loan company Charterhouse Commercial Finance (7).
Not that Chairman Ron is in any way worried. According to the club website, he said “HMRC were quick off the mark as they are with football clubs and of course entitled to be. Nevertheless I will ensure that the entire sum is settled before the hearing and will continue to ensure that the necessary finances are in place in order to steer this ship into calmer waters” (8).
A summary of a Southend Echo 4-page report on the ShrimperZone website (9) suggests that any such necessary finance will likely have to come Sainsbury’s rather than the indebted Martin Empire.
LATE EXTRA: Chairman Ron speaks to the nation here (managing to avoid the use of the word ‘stadium’).
Meanwhile one of the usual suspects has been across my radar screen for other reasons:
- Cardiff City
Just when their troubles seemed to be over, who should pop again but Sam Hammam. First there was a report that players’ wages for June had been paid late (10). Then there was a very worrying report that Sam Hammam was eying a return (11), and, even more bizarrely, that a TG/Hammam partnership would be a ‘dream team’ (12) – more the stuff of nightmares I would have thought. The club promptly confirmed that “there are no plans to have Mr Hammam return to the Club in any capacity” (13). Well, perhaps they don’t have such plans, but Sam apparently does (14). I fear this one may have legs.
In the non-League world, a couple of clubs are facing problems:
- Ashford Town (Kent)
A long-running boardroom feud and mounting debts (15) came in front of the High Court last week, only to result in an adjournment. As if this weren’t traumatic enough, in an apparently unrelated move, the FA has banned the club from all football activity because of the non-payment of £2,000 to Ebbsfleet (16).
- Ilkeston Town
At the end of March the club was rescued by a new ‘benefactor’, Gary Hodder, following the departure of beleaguered Chek Whyte (17).
The club faced a winding-up petition from HMRC yesterday over PAYE and VAT from 2008 (18).
Rather worryingly, it doesn’t seem to have been a particularly untypical ten days.
If you were a Cardiff City fan, what would your worst nightmare be? Well, it’s just happened (A) – Spinmeister Ridsdale has been asked to act as an intermediary between the new Malaysian owners and Sam Hammam! If I were Hammam, I’d be minded of the time when Maggie Thatcher announced she was going to Scotland to campaign in an election, and Alex Salmond promptly quipped, in a staggeringly accurate prediction, ‘We’ve won!’.
Ridsdale says “I don’t want to be involved on the financial side – that’s where I made my mistakes” although it’s not clear which club he is referring to. He adds “There is no chance I will be returning to Cardiff City FC in the future… I have moved on.“ I’m not sure who should be more afraid: Cardiff City fans because this may be Ridsdale double-speak, or fans everywhere else – could he actually have moved on, to your club?
There is increasing speculation on the ShrimperZone website (B) that a consortium possibly involving the Rubin family – Mark Rubin is a former Chairman – is being formed with a view to attempting a takeover, or at least standing by in case the club goes into Administration.
And now: Much more on this here.
From the club website: “Cardiff City Football Club can confirm that we have paid month one of our HMRC tax bill” (C). The fact that this has been announced says it all. It shouldn’t really be news, now should it?
The transfer embargo however remains, the stumbling block to lifting it being that the club accounts for May 2009 have yet to be filed. Do you know, I’m beginning to miss the Spinmeister – I’d love to hear his explanation for this.