The owners of Southend United Football Club have been given six weeks to settle an outstanding tax bill for £275,000
The Insolvencies and Companies Court granted the club a further 42 days until 4 October to settle its debt to HMRC which should mean that it can avoid being wound up.
‘If this were not a football club, with the particular attachment to its fans, I would be winding it up,’ said Judge Prentis. ‘This has got to be sorted out.’
Payment of the tax bill is dependent on the club being sold within the six-week timeframe to release funds. This is the not the only debt the club faces with an estimated £1m in total liabilities although these are not all tax-related.
In a statement the club said: ‘Negotiations are at an advanced stage with a consortium led by an Australian national, and comprising of a group of local businessmen. Completion is targeted before 1 October.
‘Until the sale of the club completes, everyone involved with the club, supporters, staff and stakeholders will of course be anxious about its future.
‘We also know that people are concerned about the prospect of a points deduction for apparent non-compliance with the conditional licence we have been granted to play in the National league’s competition.
‘We believe that the correct sanction for non payment of HMRC is an embargo, not a points deduction. We are talking to the National League on this point. If agreement cannot be reached we will immediately pursue an appeal.’
In March, the club avoided a winding up hearing when it paid a £1.4m tax bill to HMRC. At the time the club said it was seeking to raise £5m in bridging funding to cover the club’s overall debts.