Sheffield Wednesday stave off winding-up order

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Sheffield Wednesday today fought off a High Court bid to wind the club up over an unpaid tax bill.

A 28-day adjournment was granted at a hearing in London by Mr Registrar Jaques.

The court heard from a lawyer representing the club that it was on the "verge" of a takeover deal with a consortium of local businessmen.

Today's proceedings related to a winding-up petition over an unpaid PAYE bill of £600,000.

But the registrar heard that the club now owes HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) £1.4 million.

Counsel for HMRC had asked the registrar for the "usual compulsory order".

Catherine Addy told him the sum now owed was £1.4 million.

Since the serving of the petition in September relating to £600,000, an additional £800,000 of arrears had built up.

But, in seeking a 28-day adjournment Annette Prand, appearing for the 143-year-old club, told the registrar: "The position is that the club is on the verge of a takeover deal with a consortium of local businessmen."

She added that the deal would "be able to proceed very quickly" and that the consortium would be able to satisfy the petition debt as well as any outstanding arrears.

Miss Prand added: "This is a matter of great importance to a number of people."

A spokesman for HMRC, while unable to comment on specific cases, said "ensuring tax is paid on time should be at the centre of football's business strategy just as it should be for any other enterprise".

He added: "Any business that regards paying tax as an optional extra after other expenses are met, or that uses tax collected from employees or customers as working capital, is potentially heading for trouble.

"HMRC does not initiate winding up football clubs or any other business lightly.

"However we will not hesitate to do so when that is the right way to protect the country's tax revenues and other creditors from those who trade whilst insolvent and run up debts that they simply cannot pay."