Cherries: Mitchell's plea for more time to deal with debt
05 October 2009 07:00
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EDDIE Mitchell is hoping to gain an eight-week stay of execution when HM Revenue & Customs’ winding-up petition against Cherries is heard in court today.
Mitchell confirmed the club is set to make further inroads into its debt mountain by issuing another payment to the taxman today, with the Dean Court chairman hoping to be granted a two-month adjournment at Liverpool County Court. HMRC is understood to be pushing for a four-week break between hearings.
The club, meanwhile, was forced to pay around £5,000 in costs in midweek after the HMRC petition was published in the London Gazette and the club’s bank account frozen just days before staff wages were due.
Mitchell, speaking to the Echo from his Dean Court office yesterday, said: “Obviously during the adjournment period, whatever it may be, we have to keep making inroads into the debt. We’re due to send the taxman some more money today and that is what has been raised in house from the directors. It’s not a massive sum but it will help bring the balance down and I think if the HMRC sees our efforts, we might get the eight weeks.
“We’ve got a Football League payment due to us in the middle of the month, which is quite a considerable amount of money and we have to pay the football creditors from that because it will be taken from the sum anyway.
“What’s left from that will come to us and part of it will go to HMRC. But I am mindful that my first priority is wages for the people that work for the club and who commit themselves to me. They have to be first and foremost in any revenue streams we bring in. After them, we share it out to keep as many other people happy and the HMRC is one of those people you have to keep happy.”
When asked if the club’s account had been locked down, Mitchell added: “HMRC was obligated to itself to publish the winding-up petition in the London Gazette last week, which didn’t help us because it cost us about £5,000 to get a stay of execution.
“The bank account was unfrozen, but we had to pay a considerable amount of money to a barrister to get it unfrozen. It’s not completely unfrozen now and we’ve had to name the people we are paying and those are the only payments we can make. One of those, obviously, is the wages and it was unfrozen the same day as the wages went out.”
When asked if he could put a figure on the club’s outstanding debt, Mitchell replied: “We are in a better position than we were a few weeks ago because we’ve raised more funds. We’re down from around £1.5m to £1.3m in realistic terms and some of that is very pressing. Some of it we are drip-feeding.
“Without that debt, we would have broken even and made a small profit so the club is pretty sound.”
On the field, Cherries have been boosted after the Football League gave Eddie Howe permission to add an emergency loan or non-contract player to his injury-ravaged squad. Mitchell added: “The extra player we want to get in this week will help, but the league certainly make you dot the Is and cross the Ts to even get that far. “We’ve had to send medical records to the league to prove we are genuinely in this situation and not pulling a fast one.”
It is understood Howe could make a further attempt to bring Leicester City’s Maxi Gradel back to Dean Court, following the winger’s successful loan spell in 2007-08.
Howe has already bolstered his decimated resources by bringing in West Ham youngster Anthony Edgar on a one-month emergency loan, with the winger making an impressive debut during Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Port Vale.