We are disappointed to learn that AFC Telford United appears to be struggling with its debts and failing to pay its tax bills on time.
The club has appeared on Monday’s companies winding up list at the Companies Court division of the High Court following a petition by HM Revenue & Customs.
A statement on the club’s website says that they knew nothing of the petition before it was listed and that they believe it is related to a PAYE bill that was settled in October. A further statement says that they believe it is related to a VAT bill which they say was also paid in October. The club maintains that HMRC have made a mistake and the petition should have been cancelled.
To get as far as issuing a petition for a winding up order would take some time and would mean that HMRC has exhausted all options for collecting a large sum of money from the club which is also likely to have included personal visits from a tax officer and debt collectors. Winding up orders are a serious matter and HMRC would have to demonstrate that they have made every effort to recover the debt in a way that doesn’t involve making the club bankrupt.
Even if this is a mistake and the bill was paid a month or so ago and someone at HMRC failed to stop the petition, it strongly suggests that the club has run up a large debt over a long period of time to have got far enough into the debt recovery process that making the club bankrupt was the next step.
AFC Telford United is a much loved club in the town with a large band of loyal fans who literally saved it from bankruptcy a decade ago by putting their own money into the club. To see it go under again would be devastating for the fans and would create a big hole in the local economy. The club needs to get a grip on its finances and live within its means, there can be no taxpayer bailout this time. Telford & Wrekin Council doesn’t have the money to give them in these austere times, they already have the ground as good as rent free from the council and the council’s cabinet member for finance is Managing Director of the club which would present an unacceptable conflict of interests.