North East Wales

Prestatyn Town FC saved after fundraising drive to pay £53k tax bill

Prestatyn Town FC badge Image copyright Prestatyn Town FC

Prestatyn Town FC has been saved from closure after raising £53K to settle a winding-up petition from HM Revenue and Customs.

The former Welsh Premier League club - the unbeaten runaway leaders in the Cymru Alliance feeder league - had until Thursday to pay or face closure.

Chairman Chris Tipping broke the news to supporters on Wednesday night.

He was "unbelievably proud" of fans who donated more than 50% of the money after a four-week fundraising drive.

Prestatyn, who qualified to play in Europe after winning the 2013 Welsh Cup, have also raised cash from sponsored events, bucket collections, auctions and donations from local businesses.

The players have also contributed a "substantial amount" by donating their salaries.

The winding-up petition was issued in October following a two-and-a-half-year investigation by HMRC.

Mr Tipping said the club had been in a long-running dispute with HMRC about non-contract players' wages and expenses and that the amount owing included £17,000 worth of "unexplainable debt".

Image copyright Prestatyn Town FC
Image caption The club launched the "SOS-Save Our Seasiders" campaign to raise funds

"This is not a case of us not paying our taxes. We are up to date with them," said Mr Tipping.

"This has been a dispute about HMRC refusing to accept that our non-contract players are not full-time employees.

"We got into a decent argument with them about wages and expenses and I've got three years' worth of paperwork to prove it. In the end they basically said 'we've had enough', gave us this bill and that was that."

The club was originally ordered to pay £75,000 for a period stretching back to 2011, but it was able to get that sum reduced as it was not recognised as a public limited company for the first two years quoted.

A spokesman for HMRC said: "We don't comment on the tax affairs of individuals.

"Our aim is to efficiently collect the debts due and to prevent things deteriorating further. We only initiate winding-up action where we believe this is the best way to protect both the interests of other taxpayers and creditors."

The 106-year-old club was relegated in 2015, ending a seven-year stint in the Welsh Premier League.

Image copyright Prestatyn Town FC
Image caption The club and its supporters have "absolutely" lived up to its motto, "Determined", Chris Tipping said
Image caption Businesses in Prestatyn have supported the campaign to save the club

When Mr Tipping took over as chairman in May 2014, the club was operating at a substantial loss.

"Within three years, we've turned it around," he said. "At the end of this year we will pretty much break even."

"For us to have come so far and to be top of the league as well, I don't know how I'd have handled it if we had to close."

Mr Tipping admitted he was doubtful at first that the bill could be paid.

"I had to stand up in front of the fans at the first meeting in October and say 'look, this is achievable', but in your heart of hearts you think, 'this is almost impossible'.

"But one way or another, we've done it. It's really highlighted what the club means to so many people.

"A big thanks to everyone involved - this is probably our biggest result since winning the Welsh Cup."

Image copyright John Pickles
Image caption Prestatyn remains unbeaten at the top of the Cymru Alliance league after beating Holyhead 3-1 on Saturday

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