Telford Tigers crisis: Two weeks left to save town's ice hockey team
Telford Tigers have just two weeks to clear debts of £500,000 or face extinction after the owner of the town's ice hockey team has revealed it could be plunged into liquidation at a creditors' meeting on November 30.
But interested parties have already come forward to discuss a possible rescue deal for the table-topping side.
Telford Ice Sports Ltd, the company behind the Tigers, has appointed Darlington-based Robson Scott Associates, a business recovery specialist and insolvency practitioner, to begin the process of a creditors voluntary liquidation.
There are parties interested in a rescue deal, the liquidators said, but with creditors set to meet in two weeks time they have little time in which to put together a deal.
The club has had a period of success on the ice since investor Wayne Scholes bought into the team in 2013, although he left the club in the hands of directors Matthew Bowyer and Paul Thomason in April.
Supporter Simon Walters, who has attended every game this season, said the scale of the debts meant that investors, rather than fans, would be needed.
He said: "We have been riding on a wave over the last week, and it really hit me on Saturday morning. I was in bits when I considered exactly what was going on. I moved to Telford in May to be closer to the rink, having supported the team for about five years, and to find that a few months later the team is close to going bust really hit me," he added.
This weekend's games away at Hull Pirates on Saturday, and at home to Basingstoke Bison at Telford Ice Rink on Sunday, are expected to go ahead as planned, although a final decision will be made later this week.
Telford & Wrekin Council said it was in discussions with the club. Spokesman Russell Griffin said: "We have had a good working relationship with the owners of the Tigers and the club has had a hugely successful season on the ice. We obviously hope that the discussions that are currently ongoing result in a successful outcome that safeguards the club's future. Prior to the weekend, we were aware of the developments relating to the future of Telford Tigers and we have been in discussions with the club's owners to see what – if anything – we can do to help them through this current situation."
In a statement, Robson Scott said: "Current figures suggest that the creditor level will be in the region of £500,000, the majority of which is due to the investors in respect of financial support provided prior to the appointment of the current board of directors.
"We understand the team has a strong fan base and we are currently looking at a number of different options to preserve the team.
"Third parties have already registered an interest in taking the team forward and we are open to receiving contact from any further parties who may hold an interest in the same."
A statement from Telford Tigers tonight said: "We would like to clarify the position of the club as attempts are made to restore stability and secure its future.
"Talks are underway with a group of local investors, who have expressed an interest in assuming operations of the club. The hope is a solution can be found in the next couple of days to ensure the club plays all of its upcoming English Premier League fixtures.
"We would also like to clarify that the club was placed into administration by the current directors of Telford Ice Sports. None of the investors in the club have foreclosed or called due any note held by them at this time.
"Telford Ice Sports has received ?176,000 from the former owners since May 2016 in support of operations that now appear to have been grossly mismanaged.
"Existing creditors were only notified last week that the company was in dire financial straits and would be seeking liquidation at the instruction of its current directors. The administration process will identify how Telford Ice Sports spent these significant sums.
"We would like to reassure all fans and those who care about the future of hockey in Telford that work is already underway to secure the future of the team and talks have been positive. At this stage we fully expect that the team will fulfill this weekend's fixtures and has good prospects going forward."
Anyone wishing to lodge an interest in the club should visit robsonscott.co.uk