Wednesday given 28 days to settle debt

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Sheffield Wednesday were given 28 days to settle its debts with the taxman on Wednesday after a High Court registrar was told the football club had already made a "substantial payment".

Hugo Groves, representing the club, asked for the adjournment of a winding-up petition by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) after saying money from the sale of players had been used to reduce the outstanding PAYE balance of £550,000.

"There are also very serious and advanced negotiations for the sale of the club," he told Mr Registrar Peter Nicholls.

HMRC said there had been "a very substantial payment of the debt" but more money was owed since proceedings began and was granted permission to amend the petition.

The Registrar dismissed petitions against Southend United and Cardiff City football clubs after being told the debts to HMRC had been paid.

The npower League One club has been dogged by financial problems since being relegated from the top flight in May 2000 with the Owls' current debts reported to be around £26million.

An HMRC spokesman said earlier: "We can't discuss individual cases.

"HMRC doesn't initiate insolvency action against football clubs - or any other business - lightly but we will not hesitate to do so when that is the right way to protect the country's tax revenues and other creditors from those who trade whilst insolvent and run up debts that they simply cannot pay.

"Ensuring tax is paid on time should be at the centre of football's business strategy just as it should be for any other enterprise.

"Any business that regards paying tax as an optional extra after other expenses are met or that uses tax collected from employees or customers as working capital is potentially heading for trouble."

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Sheffield Wednesday
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