NORTHWICH Victoria are likely to enter administration this week for the third time in little more than a decade, according to the Northern Premier League.
In a statement issued last night, officials revealed the club have filed papers at a court in Manchester that say they intend to appoint an administrator in the coming days.
According to the competition’s rules, that is enough to trigger a 10-point deduction which would send Adam Lakeland’s side to the bottom of the table.
“The proposed administrator has held preliminary talks regarding the sale of the club with interested parties,” concludes the league’s message.
Owner Martin Rushe published a statement on Vics’ official website at the same time, but made no mention of an administration order.
Instead he said he has agreed to hand ownership of the Division One South side to a group of fans.
“My family no longer has the resources to support the club financially,” he added.
Vics’ financial position is unclear, and the latest set of accounts is almost four months late according to Companies House.
The previous summary, published in July 2015, revealed the club owed creditors more than £260,000.
Rushe, 32, has been the sole shareholder and director for the past two years.
He took control after his father, Jim, had a bankruptcy order made against him.
Rushe senior is currently serving a six-year prison sentence after being found guilty in April of conspiring to supply cocaine.
“My family’s enthusiasm and effort to drive the club forward has been unstinting and it is with great sadness we can’t take it in the direction we would wish,” he said.
“Therefore we have decided it must be handed over to the supporters, and we have been working tirelessly with our advisors in the past few months to ensure a smooth and solvent transition.”
He identified Northwich Victoria Supporters’ Association, led by general manager Dave Thomas and kit man Brian Turner, as Vics’ next owners.
Earlier this month, a 200 Club was launched inviting fans to donate £5 a week to cover the team’s costs.
Following a 2-2 draw at lowly Carlton on Saturday, the side sit 14th in the table with 21 points.
Vics most recently appointed an administrator in 2009 after they were relegated from non-league’s top flight.
A run to the FA Cup second round the following season, generating a six-figure sum in prize and television money, persuaded creditors to accept a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) – an agreement to receive part payment of what they were owed.
It proposed a dividend of 37p in the pound, which was not enough to stop the Football Conference from kicking them out of the competition.
Administrator Gary Pettit then terminated the CVA in February 2012, when the team was challenging for promotion from the Northern Premier League’s Premier Division.
In a report, he claimed creditors had not had a penny.
At that time, Martin Rushe was the company’s secretary.
An official receiver was appointed to investigate what had happened, a process that ended after more than three years this summer when the winding-up of Northwich Victoria Football Club (2004) finally concluded.
“It does not appear that any assets have been recovered, nor has there been any payments made to creditors,” a spokesman for the Insolvency Service told the Guardian.
Vics were initially expelled from the league, a sanction that was reduced to a one-level demotion after an appeal.
This season is their fifth in Division One.
In his statement, Rushe said his family ‘had strived to be the best we can’.
He added: “The club will always be in our hearts.
“We’ve had fantastic footballing highs and unfortunate lows, and I’m satisfied the new owners will follow our dreams and achieve great success in the future.”