Plymouth Argyle hopes to pay off tax debt this week to avoid court
CASH-strapped Plymouth Argyle is hoping to avoid appearing in the High Court by paying off its debt to the taxman – possibly as early as this week.
It is understood that with the sale of defender Reda Johnson to League One rivals Sheffield Wednesday going through last night, the club will be in a position to clear the remainder of the £700,000 'petition debt' owed to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
The 22-year-old stopper has signed a three-and-a-half year contract with Sheffield Wednesday following talks on Monday.
A large slice of the debt, now standing at about £500,000, will also be settled from the recent £300,000 sale of winger Craig Noone to League One pacesetters Brighton and Hove Albion.
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Plymouth Argyle companies are facing three winding up petitions brought by HMRC.
Plymouth Argyle Football Company (Holdings) Limited, the umbrella firm controlling other subsidiary companies at Home Park, is due at the Royal Courts of Justice, in London, on January 12.
However, sources say the £30,000 the holding company owes to the taxman, part of the overall debt, will be paid this week.
The rest of the PAYE and VAT debt – brought by HMRC against Plymouth Argyle Football Company Limited, effectively the football club, and Home Park Properties Limited, the company created to take ownership of the Home Park stadium – is hoped to be paid this week too.
Last month, the High Court gave the club a 63-day stay of execution after hearing how Plymouth Argyle Football Company Limited owed HMRC £500,000 and Home Park Properties Limited owed £260,000.
But it also heard the tax debt had been reduced by £36,000, £140,000 was in a solicitors account ready to be paid and a further £48,000 was paid following a payment from the Football League.
It leaves the club owing about £500,000, which it now expects to pay this week – well in advance of the deferred High Court date of February 9.
However, Argyle will still owe HMRC tax which has accrued since the petitions were filed.
But The Herald understands the club is expecting to be able to pay this money before the end of January.
Argyle, which has defeated two other winding up orders in the past year, then faces the task of staying financially afloat during the rest of the season, keeping the taxman at bay.
It is understood that would require financial assistance from the club's Japanese-based directors Yasuaki Kagami and George Synan.
It is understood there has been a commitment from Japan to supply funds but as yet no cash has arrived.
Argyle's financial woes include more debts than just the sum owed to HMRC, with up to £9million thought to be owed.
The club is also working hard to bring in more cash too, with sources saying "strenuous efforts" have been made.
The club is now under the stewardship of former Leeds United and Cardiff City chairman Peter Ridsdale, who will work as an unpaid 'football consultant' ahead of the February court hearing.