Wigan rugby club in desperate race to pay debt to secure future
A struggling Wigan grassroots rugby club which has seen super league stars come through its ranks is appealing for help to pay off a huge legacy debt so it can keep its doors open.
Board members of Golborne Parkside Sports and Community Club have set up a fund-raising page to start making a dent in more than £50,000 of historical debt owed to HM Revenue and Customs.
The committee - which has trained the likes of Wigan Warriors star Chris Hankinson and Warrington Wolves players Ben Curry and Jack Hughes - has made an impassioned plea after threat of closure from the tax authority following periods of serious financial difficulty.
Rory Appleton, vice chairman, is urging people to get behind the club in whatever way they can to ensure its future for the scores of children currently on its books.
“It literally is somewhere you go on a Tuesday and Thursday and see smiling faces everywhere,” he said. “We have 167 children registered with us to play rugby league. That’s what it’s about.
“We don’t want it to be some big showy club, if it makes just one pence profit but we can keep the doors open for the next 30 years then that’s the idea.”
The club, which is also home to a number of groups including Weight Watchers, Morris dancers, amateur dramatics and the Milltown Sound barbershop group among others, is at serious risk of closure if the debt cannot be paid off or at least renegotiated.
“If we can just raise £10,000 then that will put us in a better position to renegotiate,” added Rory. “I can understand that this makes us look bad, like we are disorganised.
“Over the 17 years since the new club opened there have been some really good people involved and who still are involved.
“I cried when we found this out, I’m not even ashamed to admit it. I may not have the greatest expertise in running a club but I give love and enthusiasm.”
In the past 12 months, the board has changed and new volunteers have been trying to think of ways to pay off the legacy debt before it became too great.
“We have renegotiated with our sellers to keep our costs down,” he added. “A lot of it was going really well but we were always aware of the debt with HMRC which has been going on for years and years.
“Basically we need to find £50,000 from somewhere. If we can look to get our things in order then we are in a position to renegotiate the debt with HMRC. We have been very fortunate so far through the appeal and had offers of help.”
Despite receiving some criticism from members of the public, the board decided it was time to go public with the problems and explain what was going on so that people might help them get back on track.
On the JustGiving page they say: “None of us wanted the situation to get to this point, however circumstances have been brought forward following Monday’s events.
This means we are now looking for an immediate financial improvement before our next meeting with HMRCnext week.
“The team are here to do everything in our power to overcome this adversity and we welcome all offers of support but financially and any alternate offers of assistance.
“Obviously this is a worrying time for our staff and volunteers so please be respectful in your comments as upsetting anyone further at this stage will be counter productive in our efforts.”
The board has committed to honouring any existing event bookings it already has and is reminding people that they can book the venue out for a multitude of uses.
“We are just asking if anyone has anything to spare, even if it’s just 20p,” added Rory. “If it makes a difference even on a smaller level that’s great. The level of support we have received over the past few days has been amazing.”
To view the fund-raiser or donate visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/saveourparkside