North East Wales

Wrexham FC Supporters Trust urged to bail out club

A businesswoman leading one of the bids to buy Wrexham football club has urged fans to cover a £200,000 tax demand.

The club has been issued with a winding-up petition by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

Stephanie Booth said she was weeks away from making an offer but, in the short term, Wrexham Supporters' Trust (WST) should use money it has raised to pay the bill.

The trust said it could not "give the money away" without members' approval.

Both Ms Booth and the trust are going through the club's accounts with a view to taking it over.

In a statement, Ms Booth said as a PLC her bid was prevented by corporate governance rules from investing any money until a deal was completed.

She added the only way of saving the club was for the supporters' trust to invest part of the £378,000 it had raised.

"This money was raised from hundreds of fans specifically to invest in WFC and now is the time for them to do so," she said.

"Failure to do so now will almost certainly result in WFC being wound up."

But trust chairman Richard Owen told BBC Radio Wales it was also going through the club's books to see what money was needed and whether it would make a bid.

"At the end of the day its going to be the [Trust] members who decide what we are going to do going forward," he added.

"We are similar to Stephanie in that we are a properly constituted organisation.

"We can't just give money without proper due diligence and the approval of our members."

A statement on the club's website said the owners were "doing everything within their powers to secure the future of the club".

The statement added: "That HMRC should take this action at all is a source of great disappointment and frustration, when offers to honour our commitment over a period to the Revenue have been rejected out of hand.

"The club 'holds its hands up' in full acceptance that this situation has been allowed to escalate, and realises that football clubs in general understand that there now exists something of a zero tolerance relationship between them and HMRC.

But before Saturday's 2-0 home win over Kettering, some fans said it was up to the club's owners to pay the tax bill.

"Any businessman knows you have to pay the tax man," said Steven Hughes from Colwyn Bay.

Long-time fan Dei Charles Jones from Llanuwchllyn, near Bala, said he was "disappointed" with the timing of the announcement saying it could have waited until Monday so fans at the match "could still have a dream of promotion" with two games left in the season.

Earlier, members of WST met one of the club owners.

Trust chairman Mr Owen, who was at the meeting, said fans were obviously worried about the winding-up order.

"History shows that very few football clubs have been wound up following HMRC winding up orders. Cardiff City last year, Preston - good examples - solutions were found," he said.

"We are actively working towards a solution."

Businessman Stephen Cleeve has also outlined his interest on taking over the club to fans on the Red Passion website.

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