£2.7 million owed to the taxman?

This was meant to be a short piece saluting City fans for exceeding the 10,000 season tickets sold by the end of December target under the Platinum Ambassador scheme with a bit of speculation thrown in as to who we would be signing this month with the money raised (all of which had been earlier promised to Dave Jones for team strengthening). However, that was before this story appeared in today’s News of the World which strongly suggests that there may be far more pressing matters at Cardiff City Stadium currently than discussions as to whether we need four or five new players!

Before looking at what is being said, I think the question needs to be asked as to whether we should believe the article – after all, the “News of the Screws” is hardly a reliable source is it? My instinct is to think that what is being reported is true – our Chairman more or less admits as much himself. Furthermore, I can’t help wondering where the story may have come from – unless Mr Risoli has suddenly become the sort of high quality investigative reporter that City fans have long wished for when it comes to unraveling our finances, where else could it have come from? I very much doubt whether anyone at HMRC would risk their livelihood, and possibly their freedom, doing it so where could Mr Risoli have got his information from?

Back on 25 November, the Echo annoyed Peter Ridsdale by running a story (the last two paragraphs did not appear in the initial story) about the court appearance by the club earlier that day to answer the winding up order brought by HMRC. The Chairman of the club reacted in robust fashion as he lambasted the Echo for running a story which he claimed caused unnecessary distress to supporters as well as making the club’s creditors feel twitchy, but, compared to what is being said in the News of the World today, it was all fairly gentle stuff.

However, this time Peter Ridsdale  is happy to speak to the media as he sets out the club’s plans. In saying “ We will have the money to pay the Revenue and we will pay them this week.I personally spoke to the Revenue before Christmas. I told them we can pay at the beginning of January and they were happy with that.”, he is, surely, admitting that the gist of what is being reported is true but this does not sit well with his reported comments in this article from November – what he is saying now is nothing like what he was saying then.

As for the details of the News of the World story, Peter Ridsdale still talks as if there is nothing to worry about – according to him,”We will have money to pay our tax bill and we’ll have money to do things to the team.” – how on earth can that by the case? Our Chairman admits we need to find money for the taxman quick and if the £2.7 million figure quoted is correct then that sounds uncomfortably similar to the amount raised by the Platinum Ambassador scheme, so assuming that is the case, the club need to find around £5.5 million if it is to deliver on the two promises made by Mr Ridsdale – to my mind, this can only happen in two ways.

The first of those options is the usual one Cardiff City take – that is, sell one of your best players and the story talks about a “verbal agreement” (Mr Ridsdale obviously likes these!) with Manchester United regarding young full back Adam Matthews (this would certainly explain the reluctance to name him in the team for the last six weeks or so). Together with the season ticket revenue, that would certainly raise the sum required, but supporters have been fed the line that this year was going to be different. In essence, we were told “you buy a season ticket now and we will really have  a go for it in January”, so how will people react to the sight of the club’s best young prospect being sold (yet again)?

Of course, there might be another solution and that is that the Malaysians will ride to the rescue by completing their takeover sooner rather than later – if that were to happen, then the Revenue could be paid off, Matthews kept and Dave Jones get his transfer war chest all in one go! I have said more than once on here that I have been an optimist as far as the Malaysian connection was concerned, but I have to face up to the fact that much of my “glass half full” attitude was down to comments which were made before the news broke that the front man for the potential investors had not even been told about the HMRC winding up order before we appeared in court. When it was first reported that our Chairman was in negotiations with TG, he made much of the fact that, when dealing with people from that part of the world, trust had to be established over a period of time – quite where not letting the other party know about a winding up order fits into such a plan, I just don’t know.

Throughout the autumn and into the winter, Peter Ridsdale has maintained that, although they face short to medium term cashflow problems, City are in good financial shape overall and it would not be right yet to discount such positive thinking completely, but it really does seem to me that,even if selling the likes of Matthews gets us over this particular hurdle, another, bigger one will soon appear unless there is substantial new investment into the club – we cannot keep on living like we have done for the past five years and more.

In finishing I would like to pose three questions. The first two would be to Peter Ridsdale – after what you have said about the winding up order up until now and the claim in today’s News of the World that the first repayment under the agreement which led to the dropping of the court case was not made, do you really think that supporters will believe what you are now saying? Secondly, given what you say in the News of the World and your reported comments in yesterday’s Echo – in particular ““Dave has given me a long list. They are players who fit the bill for Dave Jones and Cardiff City. We will move to get players in as quickly as possible.”, don’t you believe that the club’s supporters deserve an explanation as to what exactly is going on? The third question is one that is aimed more at supporters – if,as certainly seems possible, the money raised under the Platinum Ambassador scheme is spent on paying the tax bill and the club doesn’t keep it’s promise to invest in new players, would you have preferred it if they had just told us the truth from the start – would that have made you more or less likely to buy a season ticket?

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