Hereford & Worcester

Hereford United wound up in High Court over tax debt

Hereford United Image copyright Empics

Hereford United has been wound up by a High Court judge.

The winding-up petition was brought by HM Revenue and Customs, which is thought to be owed £116,000.

Owner Andy Lonsdale had promised to invest £1m in the club, which was expelled from the Football Conference in June after failing to pay creditors.

But he was late to court and the judge was not satisfied there were sufficient funds.

West Mercia Police said officers had been deployed to the Edgar Street ground following "reports of antisocial behaviour involving 20 to 30 people".

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Media captionBulls closure 'hurts' - Supporters' Trust

The club's debt to their football creditors, including members of the current squad, other club staff and clubs from which the Bulls loaned players during the 2013-14 season, added up to £148,000.

The MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire called the move "a victory".

Jesse Norman said it was "a bittersweet moment, but the fact of the matter is that after months and months of delay we have now won though".

"I think it is the best Christmas present we could ever have wanted and this is the beginning of something very significant and good and long-term and new in football for Herefordshire".

The club has had a troubled few years, with spiralling debts, low attendance, and overspending on players leaving no money to pay tax bills.

London businessman Tommy Agombar took over the club on 4 June 2014 - but was forced to stand down just 13 days later when he failed the Officers and Directors Test.

Image copyright Nationwide league/bbc
Image caption Tommy Agombar (pictured), who was the club's owner for 13 days, was confronted in June by fans angry at the state of its finances

Today was the tenth time Mr Lonsdale, who took over from Agombar in June, had been ordered to appear at the High Court in London.

His barristers told the judge the money was definitely in the bank but they had no documentation to prove it.

Mr Lonsdale, who claimed he had evidence of sufficient funds, said he was stuck in traffic and could not get to the court in time, which the judge said "was not good enough".

The winding-up order was issued moments after Mr Lonsdale was due at court, at just after 16:30 GMT.

The club, formed in 1924, were 14th in the Southern League Premier Division and drew their last game at Dunstable 1-1 on Saturday.

They were due to play Hitchin on Saturday.

Supporters gathered at the club's ground at Edgar Street, where one man said: "We will come back. It may take 10 years, but we'll be back."

Herefordshire Council said: "As Hereford United Football Club (1939) Limited is in the process of being wound up and a liquidator will be appointed, this action triggers the council's right as landlord to forfeit the leases.

"The council will now pursue this and seek to gain formal repossession of all three sites leased to the club.

"Once the ground has been secured, the council will consider the appropriate process for procuring a new tenant to ensure the continuation of football."

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