TODAY is a critical day for Accrington Stanley, as the club’s future rests in the hands of the taxman over a £300,000 debt.
Club directors will head to London to outline plans to pay off their unpaid tax and national insurance bill, while shell-shocked supporters will flock to a survival summit tonight in a bid to prevent the club being wound up for the second time in its history.
Stanley chiefs were originally summoned by HM Revenue and Customs to the High Court on 10 June, but have now won a hearing at the Revenue’s head office today (Friday) – and are confident of averting administration.
Relieved Reds chief executive Rob Heys said: "We acknowledge that the debt is there and we want to pay it and it’s just a matter of coming to an agreement with HM Revenue."
Earlier in the week Hyndburn MP Greg Pope twice met with Financial Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Timms to plead Stanley’s case.
Mr Pope said: "It would be an absolute tragedy if Accrington Stanley was closed down for the second time. We cannot let it go without a fight. My understanding is that if Stanley can come up with reasonable proposals about how they can reschedule their debt to the taxman hopefully we can come up with a way forward."
A crisis meeting for fans will be held at 5.30pm tonight at Stanhill Hall amid attempts to set up a club supporters’ trust and "fighting fund".
The meeting has been called by Accrington-born multi-millionaire Ilyas Khan, who has offered to invest £250,000 in the club in return for a share re-issue; he claims that figure could be doubled with other donations.
Mr Khan told the Observer that it would be a chance to put a fighting fund on a legal footing. He said: "I wouldn’t underestimate the amount that can be raised, but it wouldn’t be charity. It’s got to be in return for something. Maybe the supporters club can own shares in the club or ensure more transparency."
Rob Russell, former supporters’ club chairman, is expecting a bumper turnout amid growing fears of a repeat of 1962 when the club resigned from the Football League crippled by debts of £10,000.
He said: "I’ve had numerous calls this week from the kind of fans that I would like to go along. A supporters’ trust would be like the supporters’ club but with a lot more legalities and it needs a lot more people involved. I’ll certainly give it my full backing and 110 per cent effort."
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