HMRC-Notts County case adds to Leonard Curtis' Paragon role

04 March 2019 4 min. read
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Insolvency specialists from professional services firm Leonard Curtis have confirmed they are now supporting the sale of Notts County Football Club, as well as overseeing the administration of a company belonging to club’s beleaguered owner. Alan Hardy’s design contracting company, Paragon Interiors Group, collapsed at the end of February, as it emerged staff and subcontractors had gone unpaid.

2019 has gone from bad to worse for embattled business magnate Alan Hardy. The Notts County Football Club owner was forced to quit Twitter, after he mistakenly included an ‘intimate’ photograph of himself in a screenshot he posted to the social media site in January – and amid the stir that this caused in the court of public opinion, Hardy placed the football club up for sale later that month. February did not end on a positive note for Hardy either, as financial issues came to light which both caused the collapse of his company, and now jeopardise the future of England’s longest-surviving Football League entity.

Alan Hardy's design company, Paragon Interiors Group, fell into administration in the last week of February, appointing Leonard Curtis Business Rescue & Recovery to oversee proceedings. Leonard Curtis – which recently oversaw the insolvency of viral news company Unilad – has appointed Richard Pinder, Sean Williams and Alex Cadwallader as joint administrators, and they are understood to be seeking offers for the Midlands based contractor in order to preserve jobs and maximise the return to creditors. The company employs in excess of 90 people.

HMRC-Notts County case adds to Leonard Curtis' Paragon role

At the time this was announced, Hardy claimed that the financial problems at his company would not affect Notts County, and pledged to support the Magpies "as best" he could while dealing with "a very difficult situation.” However, it soon became apparent that the two entities were in fact intertwined, with BBC Radio Nottingham reporting that Hardy’s company had lent money to Notts, using it to buy and fund the club, as part of Hardy's takeover deal in January 2017.

Just days later, with Notts County currently propping up League Two at the foot of the table, the club has been stung by a winding-up petition from the UK’s tax authority. The order relates to a missed payment of £200,000, which the club has offered a payment plan for. The four-week plan commenced from 21st February to clear the debt – however, HMRC took what Notts County considered to be “an extremely aggressive approach,” which has seen HMRC’s winding-up petition listed, and a court date set for 10th April. Despite this, the club assured fans that “the matter will be settled in good time.”

In the meantime, administrators have been in close consultation with Hardy, and are “supportive” of his attempts to sell the club. Hardy has issued a statement to the press that in the coming days he expects to receive “a formal offer to purchase the club from an overseas consortium.”

In a statement, officials at Leonard Curtis established that the firm was now also working with the historic footballing institution to secure its future. The statement said, "Leonard Curtis Business Rescue & Recovery have confirmed that, following their recent appointment as joint administrators of Paragon Interiors Group, they are working closely with Notts County Football Club to achieve a positive outcome for all concerned.”

While the situation may well be resolved shortly, it is a further distraction that the football club could do without at present, given its precarious position on the pitch. Founded in 1862, Notts County is the oldest professional league club in the world. Sitting five points from safety in League Two, however, the club could slip out of the English Football League for the first time in its 157-year history.

Related: Leonard Curtis oversees solicitors administration.