Wednesday, 8 December 2010

A taxing issue

Terry Casey
There has been a lot of interest recently about Welling Football Club turning to their supporters to pay their tax bill.

It appears that not only are Welling asking supporters of other clubs to donate money but they have also initiated a loan scheme asking supporters to lend the club money to pay off HMRC.

The great majority of the posts I have read from Maidstone United fans are clearly unsympathetic to the plight of Welling and also to the people that have so mismanaged the club that they find themselves close to extinction.

I am not sure why there is so much indignation when a football club are asked to pay their taxes. It is one of the irritating but unavoidable facts of life that we all have to pay taxes that are due to the government.

Why should the owners and directors of football clubs imagine that they can work under a different set of rules to everybody else? It is not only the taxman that football clubs can be financially irresponsible towards.

I looked recently at the Portsmouth list of creditors and it was sad to see the numerous decent hard working people and small businesses who were never likely to get paid for their labour and their goods.

The public are losing patience with the fast and loose attitude that football clubs have had for many years with other people’s money. Maybe the hard-nosed realism shown by Maidstone United supporters about the Welling situation emanates from fans that have already seen their team go into liquidation.

Sadly our inheritance as the new owners of Maidstone United also involves huge difficulties with HMRC that could still put the club under enormous pressure. These debts are not the responsibility of the supporters of the club.

Supporters should not be pressurised by being told unless they put their hands in their pockets the club will no longer exist. The simple reason for the debts are poor management and a feeling among football club owners that they are in some way immune from accountability.

Maidstone United Football Club must be run as a business. It must be viable - that is the only way for the club to be safe in the future. To make the club commercially viable we have to play our home games in Maidstone.

It is the duty and responsibility of the owners to run the club with efficiency, integrity and honesty, and make every effort to ensure that the county town has a football club that it can be proud of.

It is not the responsibility of the supporters to bail out a failing business whenever it gets itself into trouble.

There is still a long way to go and after just two months in charge we are all still working hard to secure the future of the club.