One of Birmingham's most successful and ambitious rugby clubs has been saved from liquidation after its directors struck a deal over a five-figure tax bill.
Birmingham & Solihull Rugby Football Club, whose first team, the Bees, are about to embark on the inaugural season of the 12-team Championship, were faced with a winding up order from the Inland Revenue and were due in court last Wednesday.
But directors staved off disaster when they reached an agreement with the taxman that has kept the club afloat in what has been an awful summer for the newly promoted outfit.
The agreement came just days before Bees had their application for planning permission on their existing Sharmans Cross Road ground rejected by Solihull Council, a proposal that was crucial to their dreams of a groundshare at Damson Parkway.
Consent would have allowed them to build 87 houses, valuing the suburban site at more than £8 million, and in a single act have enabled the club to pay off their debts and still have enough to set up a joint Community Foundation with Solihull Moors Football Club.
But their failure to provide 35 affordable houses in the application gave councillors the excuse they needed to turn down a controversial scheme that would have angered some of the electorate in Solihull.
However, even though their problem with the Revenue has been resolved for now, the short and medium-term futures are not yet certain and the board have announced their intention to meet with members on Thursday evening in order to decide the way forward.
With the taxman sated until the end of September when Bees will have to meet him once more, the club must decide whether they are going to appeal or resubmit an application that even the borough’s planning officers admitted was a finely balanced one.
“We did have an issue with the revenue which the directors have dealt with,” confirmed club chairman Brian Marshall, who expressed his confidence B&S will be able to start the season and be better placed to work with the IR once the campaign kicks off in three weeks.
“With a following wind the revenues will start coming into the club by then.
“Sponsorship comes on board, we will have gate money and start having the RFU money coming in.
“It is this close season where we have lost our commercial manager and still had outgoings to honour that has been difficult.”
Which is why directors are keen to inform concerned members, many of whom have also made personal investments, of the current state of play and include them in discussions about the way forward.
“We have obviously experienced the Revenue situation, lack of planning consent and issues regarding sharing facilities at Damson Parkway,” added Marshall.
“There are a number of options we have to discuss with the members, we feel it is right they are brought up to date with what has happened in the last few months.”
On the pitch Bees began their programme of pre-season games with a 38-12 defeat at Glamorgan Wanderers last weekend.