Winding-up petition against Southend United dismissed after club clears tax debt

  • Tap above to watch video report by Carolyn Sim

Southend United has cleared a £275,000 tax debt and avoided being wound up at the High Court.

A specialist court hearing on Wednesday was told that the National League side had paid the debt “in full”, with a judge dismissing a winding-up petition issued against it by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

It comes after Southend announced it had reached an agreement over the sale of the club to a consortium.

The club was warned previously by a judge that it would be wound up if its debts were not paid off before Wednesday’s hearing.

Charlotte Cooke, representing HMRC, told the brief online hearing: “The petition has been paid in full and we seek dismissal.”

Chief Insolvency and Companies Court Judge Nicholas Briggs dismissed the petition.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Southend said a takeover deal with a consortium led by Australian businessman Justin Rees had been agreed.

It added: “Everyone is working towards a completion date of November 1 2023, that is when the consortium will formally take control of the club.”

In August, Southend were docked 10 points by the National League for breaching financial rules, after the club failed to meet a deadline that month to pay off the £275,000 tax debt.

Over the course of multiple court hearings this year, the club was repeatedly granted more time to pay off the debt, with judges told about efforts to secure its sale.

The team, known as the Shrimpers, was also previously given the court’s go-ahead to pay football-related debts so they could remain in the National League.

At a hearing in August, Insolvency and Companies Court Judge Sebastian Prentis, who was told the club had more than £1 million of total debts, said he would have made a winding-up order were he not dealing with a football club.

Judge Prentis said the club would be wound up at Wednesday’s hearing if debts had not been paid.

In the statement over the sale agreement, the club said: “The collaborative approach to agreeing this deal would not have been possible without the support of creditors and the assistance from the leader of Southend City Council.

“We recognise that this has been a stressful time for all associated with the club.

“We would like to thank our staff for their incredible loyalty and also thank all our stakeholders for their patience.”

HMRC has issued a number of winding-up petitions against Southend over unpaid tax in recent years.

The club was relegated from the English Football League for the first time in 101 years in 2021.

Formed in 1906, its previous managers include England’s 1966 World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore and ex-England defender Sol Campbell.

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