Leeds United’s staff face another anxious wait for wages amid financial constraints which have forced the club to suspend season-ticket sales to fans using debit and credit cards.
The impact of a winding-up petition served on Leeds by Sport Capital grew more acute today as the club revealed money paid for tickets via debit and credit cards was being withheld by the company which manages their card facilities.
Season tickets for the 2014-15 term have been on sale for most of May and are still available to supporters paying by cash or cheque, and through the club’s interest-free finance scheme.
But the suspension of debit and credit card payments is the latest effect of Sport Capital’s bid to reclaim a loan of £950,000 from last November, a move which led United’s bank to freeze the club’s main account.
A statement from Leeds said: “Due to the winding-up petition issued by Sport Capital, the club’s merchant service provider is currently withholding season-ticket funds that have been paid to the club on either a credit or debit card. Against the club’s wishes, the funds are being held as a precaution and as a result the club may not receive them until the 2014-15 season is underway. Therefore, until further notice, the club will be removing the ability for supporters to pay for their season ticket using the credit or debit card option.”
Sport Capital - an offshore firm which has links to David Haigh, the former Leeds director who is currently under arrest in Dubai over allegations of financial irregularities - issued a statutory demand for Leeds to repay its £950,000 loan in the first week of April.
United failed to meet a fixed deadline and were served with a winding-up petition last month. The bank account was subsequently frozen and a payment of wages owed to the club’s casual staff was missed last week.
Leeds owner Massimo Cellino, who has been fighting heavy losses and debts since buying the club more than six weeks ago, intends to fight Sporting Capital’s petition when it goes before a judge in London on June 9 but in the meantime United are have another bill looming with May’s wages for playing and general staff due to be paid on Friday, May 30.
The first-team squad and coaching team already agreed to delay half of their salaries for March when Cellino was fighting to complete his buy-out of Gulf Finance House.
Leeds stressed sales would continue to fans using other forms of payment and confirmed tickets already bought using cards would be valid.