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Glentoran get month to pay debts

By Chris Holt

The board of directors of Glentoran appear confident that their battle with the tax man will reach a successful outcome after yesterday receiving what amounts to a stay of execution.

The club were in court after being served with a winding-up petition by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs over an unpaid tax bill thought to amount to around £300,000.

However, the case was adjourned and will reconvene on January 13, at which time Glentoran will hope to have received a large amount of cash to cover the debt from a mystery benefactor, or benefactors, who are adamant that the handing over of any monies is strictly dependant on their anonymity being preserved.

It is unclear at this time why that process has not, as yet, taken place, but a statement released by the club gave Glentoran supporters cause for optimism that the matter will be solved by the time the new date arrives.

The statement read: “Since HMRC served a “Winding-up Petition” on the Club last month, the Board of the Club have been working with expert corporate and financial advisors to resolve the outstanding issues and ensure the future survival of Glentoran Football Club.

“Our legal representatives have today successfully obtained an adjournment to that legal procedure.

“This is the first step in a process that will, we trust, lead to a satisfactory outcome for all stakeholders and supporters early in the New Year.

“Once again we, the Board, would like to thank all of the Club’s supporters for their continued support and forbearance through these exceptionally difficult times. “No further comment will be issued at this stage.”

There was an audible sigh of relief around east Belfast yesterday as news broke of the adjournment, though it has to be pointed out the club are in no way out of the woods as yet.

All faith from a board perspective has been placed in the hands of this mystery man or woman who has indicated that they bail the Glens out, and only a small number of people are actually aware of the identity of this so called knight in shining armour.

That, therefore, means that the fans' hopes rest on the board's confidence that the benefactor will deliver on the apparent promise.

However, there are also fears amongst fans that in the current financial climate, the problems surrounding debts owed to HMRC could merely be the tip of the iceberg. There are concerns that if and when the tax man gets his cash, then other creditors may come calling, with what is owed to HMRC believed to be merely a third of the total debt held by Glentoran to other parties.

The financial difficulties have had an impact on the pitch, but to a lesser extent that what many people originally believed.

During the summer a number of high-earning players were placed on the transfer list in a bid to bring the wage bill down.

Three of them — Richard Clarke, Daryl Fordyce and Andy Waterworth — agreed to take salary cuts, Shane McCabe was sold to Portadown and Gary Hamilton was sent on loan to Glenavon.

Boss Scott Young was allowed to bring in just two new signings in Neal Gawley and David Howland, both on wages far less than what the club had been handing out in the past and, with such a small squad compared to previous years, a number of young players have been promoted to the first team.

Some pundits predicted a difficult season for Young, with a few suggesting that they may struggle to make the top six.

However, they recently won the Paddy Power Co Antrim Shield, beating fierce rivals Linfield 3-1 at Windsor Park, are in the semi-finals of the Co-operative Insurance Cup and, arguably against the odds, if you take into account the views of some so-called experts, stand just five points behind the Blues in the race for the Carling Premiership.

Meanwhile, the Spirit of 41 committee, set up after news broke of the dire financial situation that Glentoran found themselves in with the tax authorities, will continue with its initiatives to help raise funds for the club.

Tomorrow's Carling Premiership clash with Donegal Celtic will see Under-11s receive free entry with a paying adult and the same initiative aims to attract more young people to Glentoran’s last home match of 2010.

Belfast Telegraph


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