Margate’s struggles with HMRC
Posted by John Beech on September 28, 2009
Margate were back in the High Court this week. On the 1st of July they had faced a winding up order from HMRC having only paid off half of a £55,000 debt (1). This time around they were granted a further 56 days (2), having paid off £15,000.
This £15,000 had not emerged through improved cashflow, reduced costs or enhanced revenues however. £12,500 of it had been raised by the sale of shares (3).
The further stay of execution was achieved through an undertaking to pay the balance, which I make to be £12,5000, in three monthly instalments of, I presume, just over £4,000 each. Quite how this will be squeezed out of the club’s budget is far from clear, but the club have “satisfied the Court that funding is in place to repay the balance of the debt“.
Much of Margate’s woes derive from the club’s problematic attempts to redevelop Hartsdown Park. Having been forced into exile in 2002, the club was relegated from the Conference as a result of ground issues in 2004. The same year Keith Piper, by then the Chairman, announced that financial backing for a £6.75m redevelopment, with a 6,000 seater stadium and hotel complex (4).
By January 2005 the projected costs had risen to £9.5m and Thanet Council had still not granted planning permission, unconvinced by the proposed business plan (5). By the end of April 2005 the club had called in the Administrators to protect itself from its creditors (6), but by October they had moved into a CVA (7).
By June 2007 they were in trouble with HMRC again (8). HMRC have subsequently sought winding-up orders against the club in September 2008 and (the current attempt) in June 2009. It should also be noted that the club had faced winding-up orders from HMRC’s predecessors in January 1999 and April 2001.
Fans are now digging deep into their pockets to save the club (9), or, rather, to save the board. They may want to think twice about bolstering a regime that is apparently more concerned with spending money it doesn’t have on building an inappropriately-sized stadium (Margate’s average gate was 453 last season – does the board really want the club to become the non-league answer to Darlington?) than on paying the taxman his long over-dues.