Macclesfield Town: English Football League to punish club if Crewe game is not played

Macclesfield finished 22nd in League Two last season, narrowly avoiding relegation by three points
Macclesfield finished 22nd in League Two last season, avoiding relegation by three points

The English Football League says Macclesfield will face disciplinary action if the club does not fulfil its fixture against Crewe on Saturday.

Macclesfield's unpaid players say they will not play as their emotional and mental wellbeing is at "rock bottom".

As of Wednesday evening, staff and players' wages remain unpaid, following last month's late payments.

The EFL says it "fully understands" the players' position but must ensure "the integrity of the League".

BBC Sport has asked the League Two club's owner, Amar Alkadhi, for comment.

"As a group we'd like to inform the EFL and Crewe Alexandra Football Club that the game on Saturday won't be taking place despite growing reports that it's business as usual," the Macclesfield players said in a statement.

"This is down to the the fact that salaries haven't been paid for last month, we haven't trained as a squad since last Thursday due to the fact we have no training ground but most importantly, the game can't go ahead for the emotional and mental wellbeing state of the players which is currently at rock bottom.

"We hope that our own fans - who have been tremendous - Crewe fans, and the whole of the footballing community can understand this decision with it being such an important month for us all on and off the pitch."

It is not the first time the playing squad has threatened strike action.

The home league game with Mansfield Town went ahead as scheduled on 15 November following a similar threat, as did the previous week's FA Cup tie against Kingstonian - albeit, in the latter case, with an inexperienced team.

Players first issued an ultimatum to Alkadhi earlier this week saying they would go on strike again if they were not paid the wages they are owed.

Macclesfield were charged with misconduct by the EFL after senior players refused to play against Kingstonian, and referred to a disciplinary panel after failing to pay their players on time.

The threat of a further strike for their League Two fixture against Mansfield was averted when the majority of players' outstanding salaries were understood to have been settled in full.

But the club's financial problems have continued and the players are again ready to refuse to play.

In response, the EFL says it will meet with the players to discuss the crisis but is ready to enforce Regulation 31.2 of the governing body's rules, which states that a club failing to fulfil a fixture will "be liable to pay compensation for any expenses actually incurred by the opposing club".

An EFL statement read: "The EFL will meet the players of Macclesfield Town to discuss the current situation at the club, amid ongoing concern of the impact of late payments of wages on the health and wellbeing of those involved and their willingness to fulfil the club's scheduled League Two fixture against Crewe Alexandra and potentially other fixtures moving forward.

"The EFL notes today's latest statement from the players at the club alongside the recent comments made by the majority shareholder Mr Alkadhi, and it is clear there are challenges to be overcome.

"The league has significant sympathy for the players and employees, who continue to feel the substantial impact of the continued financial challenges.

"Since first being alerted to the financial challenges faced by the club, the EFL has worked tirelessly in an attempt to source an appropriate resolution, utilising central payments to ensure players and staff were paid whilst the owner has looked to find a sustainable longer-term solution to the ongoing issues.

"It remains the club's obligation to find a way to deliver on the commitments it has made both in private and public to the current issues being faced."

Campbell backs wind-up proposal

Former Macclesfield manager Sol Campbell has backed a bid from HM Revenue & Customs to wind up the League Two club.

The High Court was told on Wednesday that the 45-year-old, who now manages Southend, is owed £180,000 by the club.

A winding-up petition issued over an unpaid tax bill was eventually adjourned for an eighth time.

The financially troubled club will now appear before the court again over their debts on 18 December.

Macclesfield were five points adrift of safety in League Two last season when Sol Campbell was appointed on 28 November 2018, but he kept the Silkmen up
Macclesfield were five points adrift of safety in League Two last season when Sol Campbell was appointed on 28 November 2018, but he kept the Silkmen up

Macclesfield's latest appearance came two weeks after an adjournment to establish whether a £180,000 tax debt - not the money claimed by Campbell - had been paid.

He was appointed by the Silkmen in November 2018 and kept the club in League Two last season before leaving by mutual consent in August.

The former England defender's relative on-field success at Macclesfield came despite the off-field financial issues which have continued into this season.

The HMRC petition was first adjourned in May, when the club reportedly owed £73,000. In October, barrister Niall McCulloch said they were awaiting "international payments", as the uncertainty over Brexit has had "some impact".