Port Vale faces fight against adminstration after unpaid tax bill
PORT Vale appear to be on the brink of going into administration after being sanctioned for failing to pay a tax bill.
The latest in a series of financial setbacks has fans fearing that after more than 130 years, the club is edging towards a second fight for survival.
Vale's latest financial woe prompted the Football League to impose a transfer embargo, which meant former LA Galaxy midfielder Chris Birchall was unable to make his debut in Saturday's 2-1 win at Northampton Town.
In recent weeks, Vale have missed a £19,616 instalment on their £2.25 million city council loan, been sued by their Essex-based shirt sponsor Harlequin Property over the repayment of a £125,000 loan, and taken out a £277,000 mortgage on Vale Park with Gibraltar-based Continental Solutions.
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They are also in dispute with the Milton Keynes-based company who produce the matchday programmes, and the American sponsor of their tour to the United States last summer.
It comes as Championship club Portsmouth have been docked 10 points after they went into administration for the second time in two years. The club applied to go into administration because they faced a winding-up hearing due to a £2 million unpaid tax bill.
Last night, Vale fans feared administration was inevitable, and wanted to take the hit of a points deduction as soon as possible so the club could start to rebuild.
Printer Barry Green, aged 52, of Packmoor, who has £500 of shares, said: "Everywhere you look we are either owing money or being sued and it looks like we are heading for administration.
"I would rather we do it this season now we have enough points to avoid relegation when they get deducted."
Teaching assistant Keith Finnemore, aged 49, from Bradwell, said: "All the creditors will now see what is happening and jump on the bandwagon. That's why I feel administration is certain so let's take the hit and start again."
Kevin Bassett, aged 50, of Biddulph, said: "We have been on life-support since 2003 and there's no way forward until the present people running it are out, and if all that means administration, bring it on."
Stephen Bradley, aged 51, from Newcastle, added: "These are dark days but I am confident we will always remain in existence in some form or another."
A statement issued by Vale's vice-chairman, Mike Lloyd, said: "We are behind with payments because of a revenue shortfall.
"The various (anti-board) campaigns and increased overheads, coupled with lower match attendances nationally, have had a huge effect on income, circa to a loss of £200,000 so far this season."
Neither Lloyd nor chief executive Perry Deakin responded to Sentinel requests to discuss the club's plight yesterday.
It was a tax bill that sent the club plunging into administration in December 2002 when Vale were unable to meet debts totalling £590,000 owed to Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue.
The club has not revealed the amount of current debt to the tax man.
Former chairman Bill Bratt, a founder member of the Valiant 2001 fans' group who brought the club out of administration in 2003, said: "It seems obvious that the club isn't being run right because otherwise these bills would be paid on time."
Shareholders will get the chance to oust Vale's board at an Extraordinary General Meeting on Tuesday, March 13, the same day the club is holding its Annual General Meeting.