Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of Scoop.it! Football Finance

Around the courts

Posted by John Beech on March 10, 2010

Once again, on a day of much activity on the English football management scene, I find myself abroad, in a hotel room with a distinctly dodgy internet connection.  So here goes with what I have managed to surf against the odds.

Cardiff City
Of the remaining £1.7m of the HMRC debt which was the subject of the winding-up petition, the club has only paid off £850,000 (1 and 2).  The club has been given until 5th May, a generous adjournment of 56 days, to pay the now outstanding debt of £1.9m (it has been defaulting on its ongoing obligations to pay PAYE and VAT in the meantime).

Spinmeister Peter Ridsdale is remaining untypically silent, it being left to Elaine Palser, a club spokesperson, to make a comment.  She says that an Asian businessman will give [her word] £6m, but, as the Registrar, said “On the face of it this company is not able to pay its debts as they fall due.  The only basis, I’m being told, on which there is a prospect of this being resolved is through a third-party investor, but there is no evidence before the court“.  Time will tell who is right, but these are certainly deeply worrying times for Cardiff fans, as the club seems to have the needle stuck in its increasingly unconvincing groove when it comes to PR, and once again the board has failed to deliver.

Margate
As Jeremy Jacobs has already commented on this blog earlier today (3), the club has finally cleared all its debts to HMRC, and the winding-up petition served as long ago as April 2005 has finally been withdrawn.  It’s been a long struggle (the original debt was for £220,000), but the battle has finally been won.  Excellent news.

Chester City
In what is also excellent news, given all the circumstances, Chester City FC 2004 Ltd. has finally been wound up, the High Court doing the decent thing of putting the company out of its misery, when the Vaughan family seemed unwilling and unable to do the decent thing themselves.  This will surely lead to a family first – father and son banned under the FA Fit and Proper Person Test.
With the devotion to duty that the Vaughans have shown of late, no representative of the club bothered to turn up in court on behalf of the company.
This leaves the way clear for Chester Fans United to form a resurrection club (4) – they have already submitted an application to the FA.  Here’s wishing them every success.

Southend United
Another adjournment here, in this case one of 35 days (5).  I find this particularly odd as the club’s line has been that it is the sum which is in dispute – why should this then warrant any further extension?  Again, worrying times for the club’s fans, especially as the January wages had to paid by the PFA.  Will Chairman Ron next claim that this is simply because he disputes what the wages are?  He is not his usual chipper self it would seem – as I write, todays’ court appearance is being ignored on the club website (6).  Chairman Ron has of course been busy with other vital matters, sacking assistant manager Paul Brush (7).
I am beginning to feel more and more strongly that there will be tears before bedtime.

Overall the HMRC position comes over louder and clearer – we will give you time to pay, but ultimately we will draw a line in the sand; fail to pay by then, and it’s curtains.  Cardiff City and Southend United should take note.

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