Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 31st March 2014
Hereford United Football Club have one week to stave off a winding-up petition or face the inevitability of closure after 90 years’ history.
The Conference Premier side have been summoned to the High Court of Justice in London on Monday 7 April over an unpaid £78,000 tax bill and fans are now facing up to the prospect of losing their beloved club.
Hereford – who are still regarded for pulling off one of the FA Cup’s greatest shock results by beating top flight Newcastle in 1972 despite being a non-league side – have until this coming Friday to settle the outstanding HMRC debt but, even then, they might not be out of the woods for long.
"Making the payment by Friday will buy us time, but I am not hiding from the fact that we will face another writ in two months," said non-executive director Bob Pritchard.
Chairman David Keyte admitted this week is ‘the most important in the history of the club’ but hinted at the prospect of a lifeline investor who would not only help with the urgent HMRC tax payment but potentially contribute an additional £300,000 which is needed by the board by the end of May to keep the club alive.
“We are at advanced stages with one (possible investor) that seems to have moved forward in front of the other one. They are fully aware of the timescale in terms of the immediate tax bill so if that’s going to happen, it would be nice if it was going to happen in the next seven days.
“I have been criticised in the past for saying too much too early about investments and we are working hard on this one.”
Affectionately known as The Bulls, Hereford now face a race against time to protect their existence. One fan, writing on a popular club forum, believes that accepting the winding-up petition could work in the club’s favour going forward.
“I believe the club does not have the cash or income stream to work through administration. The only way forward in my view is to go into liquidation and, out of the ashes, form a new club in a lower league 100% owned by the fans and Hereford United Supporters’ Trust (HUST),” commented Mike Langford on the Bulls News blog.
“Fundraising, therefore, should immediately be focused on getting monies into the bank account of HUST. In the close season, HUST would set the wheels in motion to shape a new debt-free team on the lines of what has been achieved in Chester, Telford, Halifax and Wimbledon. It would take a few years to climb the divisions but it would be done on the basis of balancing the books or making a small profit each year.
“We would have a strong supporters’ club with fan ownership and total transparency.”
*Hereford United FC club badge used in accordance with Wikipedia Fair Use policy.