Accrington Stanley hope the worst is over after revealing £1m debt

8:30am Tuesday 3rd August 2010

By Chris Flanagan

ACCRINGTON Stanley owed creditors in excess of £1m in May last year after losing almost £300,000 during 2008/09, according to accounts published this week.

Stanley, who have now finally had their transfer embargo lifted ahead of the new season, narrowly avoided being wound up last October.

But managing director Dave O’Neill insists the club’s debts are no longer in danger of spiralling out of control.

The Reds were minutes from extinction last year before multi-millionaire Stanley fan Ilyas Khan stepped in to pay off a £308,000 tax bill at a High Court hearing in London.

Khan has since put in up to £1m to put the club back on a firmer financial footing but the May 2009 accounts show the extent of Stanley’s financial problems at the time.

O’Neill, however, says the total of £1,082,811 owed to creditors was a ‘worst-case scenario’ and may be revised downwards as more financial information becomes available in the months to come.

“The accounts published are not a true reflection of where we are today,” added O’Neill, who took over from Eric Whalley as chairman last summer before becoming managing director when Khan assumed the role of non-executive chairman in November.

“The profit and loss is improving year on year and, although the debts will be similar now, the situation has improved because now we owe Ilyas.

“He has said there is no pressure on that money to be paid back and he may write it off at some point.

“I'm owed money too but I don't want it back, so all the debt we have is manageable now.

“There are no creditors who could suddenly say, ‘We want our money back’.”

New figures have revealed that the Reds lost £456,469 during the 2007/08 financial year - adjusted from the number of £238,469 previously announced - before losing a further £284,557 during 2008/09.

The club owed creditors a total of £1,082,811 on May 31, 2009 - up from £872,848 on May, 2008, which in turn was a revised figure from the £740,986 announced a year ago.

A number of figures in the 2007/08 accounts have been revised by the club’s new accountants.

“The loss will be about £150,000 or £200,000 for 09/10 and in future we are aiming to break even,” said O’Neill.

“That will be helped a lot by the increase in the Football League solidarity payments, which are around £150,000 more now.”

O’Neill has put new financial structures in place at the club to monitor cashflow and believes the Reds’ more cautious approach will prevent further problems in the future.

“If you don't have the information to hand you can’t react to it and things can get fogged over,” he said.

“You can say if we get a cup run or sell a player, that money will come in. That might happen.

“It’s if and buts. We are trying to work without the ifs and buts now and work on the definites.”

The accounts were late because of complications relating to Stanley’s recent financial problems and the need to verify the amount owed to Whalley in director’s loans before O’Neill can complete his long-awaited takeover of the club.

That is expected to be rubber-stamped at a board meeting later this month before the takeover can reach its conclusion.

The delay in filing the accounts meant Stanley were placed under a transfer embargo this summer under new Football League rules.

But Stanley have now been told the embargo has been lifted and they have started the process of registering their squad ahead of Saturday’s first game of the League Two season at home to Aldershot.

The Reds only previously had four players registered but a number of existing players have agreed new contracts and eight new signings were also merely waiting for the formalities to be completed.

Stanley will now hope to be able to focus on football again and Reds fan Stephen Lowe, a columnist for the Lancashire Telegraph, knows the club have come a long way in the last 18 months.

“We knew things were bad and I think these accounts just highlight what we thought,” Lowe said.

“The accounts we really want to see are for 2009/10.

“But I just thank the Lord that Ilyas Khan came in.

“If he hadn’t put £1m into the football club, there would not be a football club.”

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