Bairns boss warns fans: No need to panic

PIC LISA FERGUSON 16/07/2009'FHS'UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - FALKIRK FC v FC VADUZ'FALKIRK STADIUM'GEORGE CRAIG
PIC LISA FERGUSON 16/07/2009'FHS'UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - FALKIRK FC v FC VADUZ'FALKIRK STADIUM'GEORGE CRAIG
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Falkirk’s tax fright is believed to be over, for the time being at least.

Managing director George Craig moved to appease concerned fans after a week where the process for winding the Bairns up as a company was quickly started, then halted just as swiftly.

The club made a payment on Monday to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in a bid to rescind the legal threat that was publicised in a national newspaper’s public notice on Monday.

A petition to liquidate the club had been filed at the Court of Session last month, unbeknownst to the Bairns hierarchy until printed this week.

But input from the club’s board and majority shareholders immediately stemmed the threat of being wound up, for now.

The move is believed to have placated HMRC, and further payments will be made to other creditors as it is still “business as usual” at The Falkirk Stadium.

“Had we known of the action we would have been able to avoid it. We didn’t know about it and have been served no papers - even now,” George Craig told Heraldsport.

“Prior to Monday, we had been in discussions with HMRC over paying what is due to them but it’s maybe not been paid as quickly as they’d like and they decided to take it to the next level, though we were unaware of it until tipped off about the newspaper notice on Monday.

“That prompted a manic few hours of phone calls mid-afternoon on Monday but we have managed to reach a resolution.”

The debt related to unpaid back tax on the Pay As You Earn scheme which the club was attempting to repay - complicated, says the club’s managing director, by a combination of factors - match postponements, the recession and relegation from the Scottish Premier League.

Falkirk only missed out on one home match - Partick Thistle - during the winter, but the efforts to have that match played, it is claimed, cost 50 per cent more than the average match with no return on the outlay.

That contributed, in part, says Craig, to the present difficult time and the “drastic” action made.

He was at pains to ease the worries of fans concerned that the dark days of 1998’s administration would return to Falkirk in light of this week’s notice, just as it did at First Division rivals Dundee earlier this season.

“That’s not the case at the moment, and we’d hope it won’t be in the future, but it’s no doubt a difficult time we face as a result of the combination of those factors and being a full-time team operating with a training facility, stadium and academy such as ours.

“Just as HMRC are our creditors, we have our own debitors we rely on payments from and we are fully aware of the difficult times all businesses are going through at the moment.

“I feel the action taken by our creditors was a warning to the wider football community, and perhaps HMRC moved based on previous experiences with football clubs.”

That Falkirk find themselves operating in the restricted market-place of the Scottish Football League has been a bug-bear of Craig’s given the differences between prize money between the 12th and 13th teams in the Scottish football structure.