Relieved Yellows secure debt deal

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CRISIS-hit Hucknall Town breathed a huge sigh of relief this week when they secured an agreement at last with the taxman over their huge VAT debt.

Chief executive Liz Morley announced on Wednesday afternoon that HM Revenue And Customs (HMRC) had finally accepted Town’s latest offer for coughing up the £84,000 they owe.

She refused to into the details of the deal. But she did confirm that the club would have to stand by its previous decision to return to amateur status.

This means no money will be available for managers Tommy Brookbanks and Gary Stones or his players during the 2011/12 season, which kicks off a week tomorrow (Saturday August 13).

However the deal does also mean Town’s future is guaranteed and they will now press ahead with a shares scheme that will convert the club into a limited company.

“I am delighted to say that HMRC has accepted the latest offer from the club,” said Morley.

“Attached to it are a set of conditions that require some further discussion and clarification in the next couple of days.

“But the agreement secures the survival of the football club.”

It is understood that Town have NOT managed to persuade HMRC to give them as long as three years to pay off the debt. But it is rare for football clubs to negotiate any kind of deal. Normally the full amount of debt is demanded immediately.

Initially, Town raised about £50,000 to be offered as an immediate downpayment, with the rest to be paid over an agreed period.

“We will now make payments to HMRC under the terms of the agreement, so the fightback starts here,” added Morley.

“It is tinged with a bit of sadness because we will have to stay an amateur club.

“But the tax debt remains our priority and must be for some considerable time.

“I am over the moon that we have a football club. Maybe not at the level we would have liked but at least we are now in a position to rebuild.

“Big thanks go to all the fans, to Brian Holmes and to everyone who has rallied round.

“In particular, I would like to thank Mark Burnell, of Pell’s accountants, who has been a rock of support. Without him, we would not have been able to do it.

“Hopefully the town will now get behind the club and the lads who have agreed to stay.

“Our first home match of the new season is against Leek Town on Tuesday August 17 and it would be great to see a big turnout.”

News of Town’s financial crisis was first broken by the Dispatch at the end of last season when The Yellows were relegated from the Premier Division of the Evo-Stik League.

The tax debt accrued over two years between 2008 and 2010 during the tenure of veteran treasurer Peter Chapman. Acting on advice from elsewhere, the club failed to pay VAT on revenue items such as gate receipts.

Former chairman Holmes negoiated a loan from ground-owners, Welbeck Estates, while a public appeal raised promises of more than £50,000 to help save the club.

But as the saga dragged on, HMRC rejected Town’s offer to pay off a reduced amount. And the club was forced into the drastic measure of axeing its entire playing budget, which had already been slashed to about £700 per week.

Brookbanks also verbally agreed to forfeit the remaining two years of his three-year contract, which amounted to about £300 per week.