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Clacton: Cricket club pulls out of region’s top tier after settling £10,000 tax bill

PUBLISHED: 10:06 18 February 2014 | UPDATED: 10:06 18 February 2014

Archant

A well-known cricket club in north Essex has been forced to pull out of the region’s top league after paying a £10,000 tax bill.

Clacton-on-Sea Cricket Club says after settling its account with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) it can not afford to support a team in the East Anglian Premier Cricket League (EAPCL) for the forthcoming season, due to start on Saturday April 19.

The club, known as the Seasiders, says it has taken the decision to prevent it going into bankruptcy and hopes that its first team can be entered into the second tier of the region’s cricket competition - Division one of the Two Counties League - in 2015.

The East Anglian Premier League says it has accepted the resignation but that no decision has been taken on what will happen next.

Chairman of Clacton Cricket Club, Pierre Oxley, said: “If we had continued in the EAPCL we would not have been able to function financially as a club.

“It costs a lot of money and commitment to compete at that level - we spend around £15,000 per year to run the club – and it was a struggle.

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly and it was unanimous at the annual general meeting held last week.

“We were not prepared to make the cricket club bankrupt. We had fought the HMRC for as long as we could and have taken advice from chartered accountants Baker Tilly.

“If we didn’t settle now, there would have been significant penalties, week on week, and we don’t want to bankrupt the club.”

Mr Oxley said the total bill including costs was around £10,000. He said the tax debts related to a number of payments including those for hiring an overseas coach. He said an ongoing problem with vandalism at the club’s ground on Valance Way had caused around £15,000 worth of damage in recent years and put further strain on the finances.

He added: “HMRC is going after amateur sports clubs and once the taxman is onto you - you will have to settle at some point.

“We are hoping that the EAPCL, the Two Counties League and the ECB will support us in what we are doing – ensuring Clacton has a cricket club for the long term and decides to relegate us, so we can start the 2015/16 season in Division One.

“We hope they don’t take a decision to expel the team from the league, so we only have one senior team - as that would be another nail in the coffin of the club.”

Last night, secretary of the EAPCL, Andy Abbott, said he could not comment on what might happen until he had received feedback from the Two Counties League and before the management committee of the EAPCL meet on February 27 to discuss the issue.

“This has come out of the blue. We have accepted Clacton’s resignation and we are sad to hear the news,” he said.

“It is a salutary lesson to other sports clubs to pay as you earn and to meet your legal obligations.”

Currently Clacton Cricket Club has second senior team playing in Divison Four. Mr Oxley said he envisioned a number of first team players turning out for that team during the forthcoming season and that others would leave.

He added; “We finished fifth in the EAPCL last year but the majority of our players were from London or outside of Clacton.

“We want to consolidate the club in Clacton - have a competitive team in Division Four next season and come back with two teams.

“We have some great youth sides and a girls side and we want to build from there, so we have a stock of good Clacton-based players coming through.”

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