Bury chairman labels HMRC ‘trigger happy’
Bury football club chairman Stewart Day has called HMRC ‘trigger happy’ after the revenue issued a winding-up petition against the club.
The tax authority launched the legal action against the club over an unpaid tax bill for December of £156,000.
Commenting on HMRC’s action, Day told Talksport that the bill was settled within seven days and expressed frustration that HMRC had chosen to take the “legal route” with the club.
He confirmed that the bill had now been paid in full and that the Shakers were seeking to annul the hearing.
Speaking about the unpaid bill, Day stated that there had been “an administration error that was paid in full about seven days late from when it needed to be done”.
He also blamed a postponed Boxing Day fixture against Barnsley for disrupting the club’s cash flow
The hearing has been set for February 15 at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, but club insiders are confident that now the debt has been settled it will not go to court.
"It’s frustrating now that we’ve got to go and pay extra legal bills to have things removed when we don’t owe them a single penny at this moment in time”, said Day.
“We continue to pay our bills, we continue to progress forward but they [HMRC] are trigger-happy with football clubs.”
Day also stated that other football clubs he has spoken with “all have similar sorts of issues” with the tax authority.
“I know HMRC are very strict on sporting organisations and have difficulty with things,” he said, “but HMRC wanted to try and take it down a legal route, which is a bit frustrating. It wasn’t a case of us not paying the bill, we don’t owe them a penny.”
Property entrepreneur Day was part of a consortium that took over Bury in 2013 when the club were on the brink of bankruptcy.
HMRC ‘moving to the front of the queue’
The Bury winding-up petition is the latest in a series of moves against football clubs, as the revenue seeks to get tough on professional sport.
Commenting on the recent Bolton Wanderers petition, football finance expert Rob Wilson told AccountingWEB that this is part of a strategy HMRC has been pursuing against professional sport for the past four or five years.
“HMRC has made a big play of saying ‘we’re not happy about the way professional sport is going about its business, so if they owe us money we’ve got a duty to the taxpayer to recover it’,” said Wilson.
“There’s a spurious rule in professional football that all football-related creditors are paid first in administration cases.
“HMRC has got wind of that, is not happy about taking a small proportion of their money back, so they’ve been issuing these winding-up petitions for professional football clubs – it moves them ahead of the football-related creditors.”