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Cash-strapped Southend back in trouble with HMRC over unpaid tax

Cash-strapped Southend back in trouble with HMRC over unpaid tax
© Reuters
The case is scheduled to be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice on February 6.

Southend have been served with another winding-up petition for unpaid tax by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The League One club have been regulars in London's insolvency courts over the last decade, once receiving four winding-up petitions in a six-month spell in 2010, but Southend's fans had hoped those days were behind them when owner Ron Martin settled the last outstanding tax bill in May 2016.

But in a notice filed on the official public record for insolvency petitions, the Gazette, HMRC presented Southend with their latest demand on December 13 and the case is scheduled to be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice on February 6.

Martin, a property developer, has owned Southend since 2000 and once joked in a 'chairman's blog' posted on the club website about the "inadvertent use of HMRC Bank plc" and how "this may not have been well received in all quarters".

Between 2010 and 2016, Southend faced as many as a dozen winding-up petitions, most of them from HMRC, with Martin repeatedly settling the debts just before insolvency action started.

One such bill was memorably paid at the 11th hour when Martin remortgaged his house to clear a tax debt of more than £300,000.

Currently managed by former player Chris Powell and 10th in the table, Southend have been trying to move from their dilapidated Roots Hall home to a shiny new development at Fossetts Farm, on the edge of the Essex town, for over 20 years.

The club have recently asked fans to write to the local council in support of the latest update on their planning permission application.

They also reached a financial settlement with former manager Phil Brown in October after his sacking 12 months ago.

On Tuesday, a full-strength Southend side lost 2-0 at Roots Hall to a much-changed Portsmouth in the third round of the Checkatrade Trophy, a victory which earned the visitors £40,000 in prize money.

According to the Southend Echo, Martin visited the home team's dressing room after the game to voice his displeasure.

Both HMRC and Southend have been contacted by Press Association Sport for comment but have not yet responded.


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