Council send in the bailiffs to collect business rates SACFC didn’t know they owed

The bailiffs sent by St Albans council at St Albans City Football Club's ground.

The bailiffs sent by St Albans council at St Albans City Football Club's ground. - Credit: Archant

Bailiffs threatened to pull out the seating at St Albans City Football Club if owners did not pay the council a business rate debt they claim not to know they owed.

Two bailiffs arrived at SAFC’s Clarence Park ground at 10.15am on Tuesday to collect an unexpected debt of £42,000 in unpaid rates.

The club says neither the club’s secretary nor their accountants received a letter demanding payment from the council and the bailiffs’ visit was the first they knew about the debt.

It came as a total surprise to chairman Lawrence Levy, who said: “This came out of the blue as a complete shock to me as we are working with the council regulary and are in discussion with them about the future of the club as well as its current hardship.”

After Mr Levy and co-owner John McGowan took over the club nearly a decade ago, they immediately ploughed £450,000 into it to stop it from going under.

They also launched a campaign to raise awareness in the district council and the wider community about their ongoing financial problems. Ongoing discussions have been taking place between the council and the club about a new stadium, which would create a much-needed revenue stream for the cash-strapped side.

St Albans council’s revenues manager Allan Clark said: “We had a number of discussions with a community organisation about their business rates and offered them every help to meet their obligations.

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“They were made aware that if the rates were not met we would have to use the services of enforcement agents as is the standard procedure for a local authority in these cases.

“The agents visited the organisation to discuss their options and have informed us that the issue has now been resolved.”

After saying they may have to remove the seats if the club did not pay, the bailiffs left the ground at 12.15pm and the club has now paid the bill.