Macclesfield Town have been wound up – strengthening fears other clubs may follow suit in the coming months.
The 146-year-old National League outfit, relegated from League Two last season, were forced into liquidation at a High Court hearing on Wednesday over debts totalling £500,000.
The Cheshire side have endured financial difficulty for a number of months and can now only be rescued if a saviour steps forward, which is unlikely.
National League side Macclesfield Town were wound up in High Court over £500,000 debts
At a separate hearing, League Two Southend United were granted six weeks to pay off a similar debt, in what was effectively a stay of execution.
Macclesfield are set to follow fellow north-west side Bury out of existence. The Shakers were expelled from the EFL last year.
Before the pandemic, there were concerns that a number of clubs were spending more money that they generated, and were subsequently at risk.
Judge Sebastian Prentis made a winding up order at a virtual hearing on Wednesday
The arrival of Covid-19, coupled with its devastating financial impact, has pushed those outfits close to the precipice with talks between the EFL and Premier League over a bailout loan ongoing.
Macclesfield were relegated after being docked points for breaches of regulations relating to non-payment of wages and dropping to the bottom of League Two.
Judge Sebastian Prentis said the winding up petition had been presented ‘as long ago’ as early 2019.
‘There have been a number of adjournments of this petition,’ he said. ‘I can see nothing that gives me any comfort that this club can pay its debts within a reasonable period.’
A barrister representing Macclesfield had asked the judge to adjourn the application once more.
The Silkmen Supporters Trust released a statement on Wednesday in which they said they were ‘devastated’ by the winding up and hit out at owner Amar Alkahi.
‘The responsibility for this lies at the fee of one person – Amar Alkadhi,’ it read.
Bury became the first club in 28 years to be expelled from the Football League last year
Macclesfield fans have voiced their reaction to the sad news on Wednesday on social media
The group added that they were seeking a meeting with the receiver and will attempt to put together a rescue bid.
Sportsmail revealed last month that the EFL are forecasting an aggregate collective loss of about £250million for all of its clubs by next April unless a significant number of fans are allowed to return to stadiums by October.
Along with Macclesfield, Wigan were relegated last season following financial misdemeanours. The Latics became the first Football League club to go into administration in the pandemic and were hit with a 12-point deduction, which saw them drop down to League One.
Macclesfield fans voiced their reaction to Wednesday’s sad news on social media.
The BBC’s Nick Robinson wrote: ‘My home team Macclesfield Town FC wound up in High Court over £500,000 debts – first of many clubs to go under I fear.’
While another supporter said: ‘As a lifelong macc (sic) fan…had some of the happiest of times at the moss rose (and away) this is absolutely devastating, no words.’
Other football fans also offered their commiserations to those associated with Macclesfield
Other football fans also offered their commiserations to those associated with Macclesfield.
A Twitter user wrote: ‘Gutted for all #silkmen fans. All I can say is this doesn’t have to be the end of football in Macclesfield, stand together, rebuild and make sure there is football in Macclesfield for future generations to come. I’m 100 per cent sure we at @OfficialBuryAFC will give you advice if require.
Another added: ‘Just so sad. I’m getting increasingly angry at the football divide. With all that’s happening in the world, football needs to have a long hard look at the money it generates and where that money goes. My heart goes out to Macclesfield’s fans.’
While one fan expressed their concern for other clubs: ‘I fear Macclesfield may be the first of many to follow unless something radical is done to support lower league clubs.’
While one fan expressed their concern for other clubs after Macclesfield were wound up
Meanwhile, there was some good news with the announcement that a number of 10 EFL fixtures this weekend will trial the return of spectators. As per government guidance, crowds will be capped at 1,000 following successful trials at Cambridge.
Luton v Derby, Norwich v Preston and Middlesbrough v Bournemouth are the selected matches in the Championship, while Charlton v Doncaster, Blackpool v Swindon, Shrewsbury v Northampton and Hull v Crewe were chosen in League One.
In League Two, Forest Green v Bradford, Carlisle v Southend and Morecambe v Cambridge make up the ten.
EFL chair, Rick Parry, said: ‘It’s encouraging that we are in a position to move forward with the next phase of the pilot programme and give a small number of our clubs the opportunity to welcome back up to a 1,000 fans this week.
‘The health and well-being of supporters and their wider communities remains the priority, but as we showed at Cambridge, social distancing can be applied safely.’