Northwich Victoria’s expulsion from the Northern Premier League should not surprise onlookers

Northwich Guardian: ANALYSIS: League deals with a problem long in the making ANALYSIS: League deals with a problem long in the making

WHILE the timing of a statement announcing Northwich Victoria’s latest expulsion came as a surprise – the team was playing a match against a rival for promotion – its content should not.

Not paying creditors, be they related to football or not, is about as serious a rules break imaginable.

Not telling the men that run the Northern Premier League – one of the charges for which the club has been found guilty – makes it even worse.

Vics owner Jim Rushe was summoned to a hearing yesterday, Friday, to offer his explanation, but it was not enough to convince members of a league disciplinary panel not to take drastic action.

They have barred the team, currently second in the Premier Division table, from taking part in the promotion play-offs as well as kicking out the club from next season’s competition.

It appears they were fed up that, more than two years after firms to which the club owes money wrote off close to two thirds of those debts, none have yet received a penny promised to them.

That the club had not declared as much – rule 14.B.4 – made the league less likely to be lenient in its punishment.

It is ironic then that success on the pitch is the catalyst for what has followed.

Northwich Victoria Football Club (2004) Ltd entered administration in May 2009, little more than a month after the team was relegated from non-league’s top tier after a disastrous season.

The club was originally kicked out of the Football Conference as a sanction but was reinstated in the competition’s northern section – albeit with a 10-points deduction – after an appeal to the Football Association.

Manager Andy Preece and his players then reached the FA Cup’s second round the following season, appearing twice in live broadcasts on terrestrial television.

Their reward was a prize pot worth close to £200,000, the promise of which persuaded creditors not to petition to wind up the club.

Instead, in December 2009, they voted in favour of a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) that would pay back 37p of every pound owed to them over a five-years period.

Such an accord was in breach of Conference finance rules, which require every penny to be returned again, so the club was – this time after an unsuccessful appeal – relegated to the Northern Premier League the following summer.

Meanwhile the FA, unhappy that a new firm set up by Rushe – Northwich Victoria Football Club (2007) Ltd – did not have everything in place to take over the old one, held on to the FA Cup prize money.

The game’s governing body did not stop Vics from playing in any of its competitions in the meantime though.

It agreed to pay £170,000, a reduced figure after deductions were made to pay bills owed to opponents from the FA Cup run, to administrator Gary Pettit only in January 2011 on the condition that Rushe paid a £10,000 bond to complete the purchase of NVFC (2004) Ltd.

A further £150,000 was to follow in monthly instalments.

However in February of this year Pettit, an insolvency practitioner for Northampton-based finance recovery specialists Marshman Price, asked a judge at Manchester High Court to rip up the CVA, accusing the club of failing to fulfil any of its commitments.

Specifically, he said that Rushe had reneged on an accord to find £2,500 each month for the club’s creditors.

Unsurprisingly, Vics’ owner’s version of events is different.

He says that Pettit should have paid him a six-figures sum he spent keeping the club afloat for the seven months between it entering administration and creditors approving the CVA.

From that pot would he have paid the monthly sums, he claims.

It is not known how many times, if at all, he asked Pettit since January of last year to return the cash he says he is owed.

No matter, for neither man told the league anything.

Or the players. Or the managers. Or the club’s fans.

The revelation that Vics have not paid their creditors, in turn making invalid the transfer of membership from NVFC (2004) Ltd to NVFC (2007) Ltd, is the reason they have breached rule 2.9.2.

Rushe told the disciplinary panel yesterday that he is not guilty of any of the offences they accuse him of.

He said last night too that he thinks its punishment is too severe.

The club can not adopt both of those positions in the appeal it has promised to lodge, so it is unclear on what grounds Graham Bean – a former FA compliance officer turned nemesis of his former employers fighting clubs’ corners on disciplinary matters – will base its defence.

Meanwhile the supporters face the ignominy of the club they follow being relegated up to five divisions in three years if such an appeal fails.

Only one of those demotions will have been for the football team they follow not being up to scratch on the pitch.

That, more than anything else, is the most sobering fact of this whole saga.

Comments (6)

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9:21pm Sat 14 Apr 12

WHS says...

To be honest you miss the point. Vics have only avoided "real" relegation because they spent money they did not have putting teams together. Had they paid their debts they would have been relegated in the normal way just as Witton were when they paid their debts in full. If the FA or League allow Vics to get away with this they will send out the wrong message to other clubs contemplating spending beyond their means. Vics should be relegated to the lowest level of the non league pyramid.
WHS.
To be honest you miss the point. Vics have only avoided "real" relegation because they spent money they did not have putting teams together. Had they paid their debts they would have been relegated in the normal way just as Witton were when they paid their debts in full. If the FA or League allow Vics to get away with this they will send out the wrong message to other clubs contemplating spending beyond their means. Vics should be relegated to the lowest level of the non league pyramid. WHS. WHS
  • Score: 0

2:42pm Tue 17 Apr 12

jcvics89 says...

Amazing how witton fans gloat in the misfortune of vics, we always bin above you in the leagues and all of a sudden your the number 1 team in northwich lol bunch of jokers
Amazing how witton fans gloat in the misfortune of vics, we always bin above you in the leagues and all of a sudden your the number 1 team in northwich lol bunch of jokers jcvics89
  • Score: 0

8:10pm Wed 18 Apr 12

WHS says...

Before the war and for many seasons after it Witton were the top team in town, for many years now you have worn that mantle but not any more. By the way, who are "The official Northwich Victoria Supporters club" who apparently believe they can raise enough money in the next two years to build a ground, a club and fantastic facilities for all of Northwich? If they can they are better men than we are Gunga Din!! The minimum cost to build even a small ground is probably in excess of two million pounds, maybe even more. The good days are over, live with it!
WHS.
Before the war and for many seasons after it Witton were the top team in town, for many years now you have worn that mantle but not any more. By the way, who are "The official Northwich Victoria Supporters club" who apparently believe they can raise enough money in the next two years to build a ground, a club and fantastic facilities for all of Northwich? If they can they are better men than we are Gunga Din!! The minimum cost to build even a small ground is probably in excess of two million pounds, maybe even more. The good days are over, live with it! WHS. WHS
  • Score: 0

1:45pm Thu 19 Apr 12

jcvics89 says...

lol how would u knw about good old days, have u ever had any lol keep dreaming m8
lol how would u knw about good old days, have u ever had any lol keep dreaming m8 jcvics89
  • Score: 0

5:11pm Thu 19 Apr 12

WHS says...

If I understood your inarticulate comment I might reply, as it is I put it down to your poor education and totally ignore it and you.
WHS.
If I understood your inarticulate comment I might reply, as it is I put it down to your poor education and totally ignore it and you. WHS. WHS
  • Score: 0

6:54pm Sun 22 Apr 12

THETELLEROFTALES says...

Dear WHS, whilst I have enjoyed your banter over the last few weeks you are way out in your estimate of what a new ground will cost.
£2 million will just about get you past the consultation and planning stage these days.

Think £10 million+++
Dear WHS, whilst I have enjoyed your banter over the last few weeks you are way out in your estimate of what a new ground will cost. £2 million will just about get you past the consultation and planning stage these days. Think £10 million+++ THETELLEROFTALES
  • Score: 0

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