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Tax Man To Wind Up GTFC?

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 23/09/2004

ON information received from a number of sources, it appears possible, that Grimsby Town Football Club could cease to exist after October this year, if it is correct that the club have not paid, or are unable to pay, an outstanding debt to the Inland Revenue.

Rumours of GTFC having substantial commitments to the taxman have been around since the summer but more recent information suggests that the Inland Revenue already have a winding up order on the Club or will apply for one in October.

The amount of the outstanding debt is claimed to be close to £500,000.

The information we have is that earlier this year, the board did have discussions to determine whether an administration order should be applied for.

If the club do apply for an administration order it will most likely be granted but that in itself will present even more problems.

An administrator would be appointed. The board members would lose their powers to control the future of the club although they will still have to fulfil their statutory obligations.

The administrators responsibility would be to find ways to secure the funds to pay off all the clubs outstanding liabilities, not just the Inland Revenue's and that would be expected to increase the total cash requirement to be a great deal more than that outstanding to the tax man.

That would make it exceedingly difficult for the administrator to find the necessary funds to bring the club out of administration, which means he would have to sell off all the club assets, which would almost certainly place the club in a position where they could not continue very long even if they came out of administration.

If the club did go into administration, the connection with John Fenty, whose personal financial commitments to the club are already around £2,000,000, would be broken and, it would be a very hard task to find someone else to take his place. The other directors too are understood to have injected £50,000 each.

But all is not quite lost.

The club have a number of options.

  • They could come to some arrangement with the tax man. (It seems likely that path has already been trodden.)

  • They could appeal to the public for support by purchasing the 280,000 shares still available at £1.00 each and hold fundraising activities.

  • Persuade John Fenty to foot the bill once again and pay off the taxman to protect the investments he has already made in the club. That is a very big ask but his past commitments do indicate his passion for the club.

  • Find willing partners to enter into personal guarantees to cover the outstanding amount and borrow the money.

    It is also possible that the club already have a plan.

    Those who have followed the fortunes of Grimsby Town have learned the hard way not to write them off too quickly and are quite used to being surprised when the chips are down.

    Recently, there has been some capital invested in the creation of the Lawrie McMenemy facility, which was one of the contributing reasons for the resignation of a director who wanted it to be the Alan Buckley facility but failed, which eventually proved to be the last straw. (But that is another story.)

    The creation of this facility was obviously a commercial decision to improve the then current facility and increase the income.

    But would the club have committed funds to that project if the clock was ticking regarding their future if they were not prepared?

    The answer to that may determine the future of Grimsby Town Football Club!

    N.B. This story has been in the pipeline for a couple of weeks awaiting confirmations and no announcement has yet been made by the club relating to these reports or whether the Inland Revenue has been paid or not.

    So far, the club have not responded to our request for their comments.

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