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David Hilton puts Scunthorpe up for sale and will deal with new winding up petition expected

David Hilton puts Scunthorpe up for sale and claimed he will deal with a new winding up petition expected to be handed out by HMRC.

Scunthorpe United is once again up for sale eight months after he took over. Owner and chairman David Hilton confirmed he’s selling the National League North club.

He says they’re also expecting a second winding up petition for an unpaid tax bill.

Sports editor, Mike White said: “The club being up for sale eight months after taking over is among the more notable comments, but it’s not limited to that. Mr Hilton claims to have paid more than seven figures in to the club to keep it afloat, but that there are hundreds of thousands of pounds more needed for settling additional debts.

“The statement itself follows a winding up petition that was issued. He says a further one is imminent by HMRC, which he says he will pay along with any other petitions from his own money. Mr Hilton says he promises to continue to work through the club’s remaining debts alongside paying any other petitions served.”

A post under the name oF David White on the Scunny United fans group, read: “Due to staff travelling to this evenings game an official statement has been delayed.

“I will confirm that I have known about the Athletic article for 7 weeks.

“It was fairly obvious the news was going to cause massive embarrassment for me and there was a strong possibility it would create a lack of support.

“I made the decision weeks ago that I would temporarily limit my funding contribution to cover current staff wages only.

“This is why after 7 months of no serious issues despite the mess inherited we now have a winding up petition with another to follow in due course.

“We also have numerous CCJs and ex staff waiting on redundancy payments.

“Please understand that any money I put into the club is lost forever and whilst I’m still committed to funding the club it has to be under the right circumstances.

“I can confirm the club is up for sale. I do not see how my reputation can ever be repaired fully at the club even with success and therefore I will be looking for ways to limit my exposure and exit without it affecting the clubs playing side or it’s future existence.

“I will fund your club to ensure its survival, and the playing side will be unaffected until a new owner is found.


Firstly I would like to start by thanking so many of you for the support I have received over the last week. It has helped me considerably and contributed to me making some very difficult decisions.

I came into the club in January this year, the club was carrying in excess of £2m debt, was bottom of the National League and had a playing squad that either due to ability, attitude or a combination of both thoroughly deserved to be there.

Contrary to speculation and belief, there were no other parties at the table towards the end of January with the club due in court within a few weeks to be formally wound up by the HMRC.

People have been quite right to point out that I only paid £3 for the shares in the club, yet despite such a low amount nobody was prepared to take on the club and save it from extinction, this tells its own story.

I also inherited around £40,000 in the club bank account on the 26th January – the day of completion. I was advised by Mr Swann, and it was evidenced, that this amount in the account was considerably more prior to completion, almost enough to cover January’s wage bill. But on the day of completion, Peter Swann paid his lawyers and agent Begbies Traynor out of the funds, which came as a considerable shock to me.

What this meant was within five days, and by the end of January, I had to finance the club by nearly £400,000 personally.

This was £192,000 to pay the winding-up petition, £58,000 to pay month 9 PAYE (December), not included in the petition, and in excess of £120,000 to top up January’s wages. Other items were also paid to bring the club out of a transfer embargo, and give us any slight chance of survival.

It was known publicly that the club required a further £600,000 to see it through until the end of the season based on the squad I had inherited. This was not to eradicate any further debt and forecasts had been calculated using, and including the remainder of the season’s anticipated income. This figure was actually significantly more than that plus, rightly or wrongly, I also sanctioned the signing of an additional 11 players. This figure was closer to a million pounds just to survive until May, and on top of the £400,000 I paid out in January.

May through to August the club had no income. Despite this, all non-matchday payments had to be met including but not limited to a large payroll. The several friendlies played barely covered matchday and season restocking costs. This period cost the club in excess of £700,000.

We did however sell season tickets bringing in close to £200,000, along with sponsorship of £170,000 and membership sales bought in a further £80,000. Current Directors have also contributed but these figures did not even come close to covering the close season amounts to be paid out alone.

I have also continued to pay creditors, paid to rebuild a playing squad and also a substantial amount of redundancies. I have funded maintenance work to the stadium and to both pitches along with paying six figures so far in legal fees to secure land and to fight to keep us in the stadium. Further legal fees are being paid out to defend the club against legal action issued against us by Ian Sharp, Ian has instructed his solicitors to recover monies he donated to Peter Swann with no agreements in place with the club itself, this is costing thousands to defend. I am also having to defend the club against Macron, who have issued proceedings against the club for a considerable amount. This is also ongoing. There are at least six other five-year contracts which range from vehicles, photocopiers and bathroom hand dryers that we are fighting too, at a significant cost.

The payroll when I came into the club contained over 160 staff each month, the monthly amount was in excess of £180,000. The most frightening part of these numbers is that not even 50% of the payroll amount was for the playing staff. Our payroll now contains less than 50 people with a top line of £130,000, reduced by nearly a third. Better still over 80% is paid to the footballing side of the club and I am sure everybody can see the impact that has made.

There are without doubt creditors slipping through the net. Redundancy payments outstanding, albeit far more have been paid, severence payments to ex-players and managers, and there are pension contributions that need catching up. The outstanding creditor amount is in excess of £600,000 but is coming down.

I have noticed that people also talk about matchday ticket sales from August solely keeping the club afloat. Again it does not even come close. We received between £22,000- £24,000 for each home game this season apart from Scarborough, which was £44,000. People do not take into account 1,300 season ticket holders, concession tickets and children. We will have 2-3 home games each month which brings in between £44,000-£75,000 per month. The hospitality side and food and drink sales now cover our match day costs such as stewards etc along with the players food throughout the week. No extra income from this is received.

We have a level six football club with numerous ongoing legal battles that are required to tidy this club up costing thousands each month. We have no home, as the previous owner refuses to now negotiate and demands vacant possession, and prior to that refused to accomodate a standard conveyancing process. The club still carries a significant amount of debt and the club loses significant amounts of money each and every month. I came in to make a difference, as I have always said, and it was not with my eyes closed. But I say this with a certain amount of confidence, without me at this time, your club will almost certainly die.

All of the above has been itemised in order to show you exactly what is on offer to any potential buyer, and I will confirm that the club is now being made available to purchase to the right people.

My offer to sell the club will remain in place indefinitely, and we will see what the future holds. In the meantime, myself and my team will continue to work tirelessly to bring you success and eradicate all of the ongoing issues as quickly as we can. Your club will be unaffected on the field, and I will always look for us to be strong at whatever level we play at.

I have previously mentioned that I have made past mistakes. After spending many days reflecting on the situation, I realised that making a spelling error in this statement would be a mistake. What I did in 2013 was not a mistake, it was a crime, I broke the law. I have to own that situation and be strong enough to deal with the consequences. The shame and embarrassment I felt before it was made public was always there. What I feel now is real pain. I do not agree that me opening up at the Fans Forum in February would have created me a more supportive response, I actually think it would have been catastrophic. But, I should have been honest in January before taking control of your club. I should have given you the supporters the opportunity to decide if the honesty would have outweighed the crime I committed in the past.

I have a stain on my personal character that I am now certain I can never wipe clean. Unfortunately, whilst I am your owner the club will carry that same stain and for that I am truly sorry.

What The Athletic set out to do is not how it is being portrayed. It was a character assassination, carried out either as a personal vendetta, or on behalf of someone else. It cannot be considered an article created in the public interest. For this article to be in the public interest it would have had to discuss everything about me in a fair and balanced way. It did not do that. It would also have to consider the ramifications for the public.

I have already discussed the club’s current financial position and the fact that it is a completely unattractive proposition for anyone. Therefore any article going against the Rehabilitation Act would need to demonstrate that destroying my life and potentially killing a football club, which is what it was trying to do, is in the public interest.

The article failed to mention anything since my rehabilitation period ended. Assisting and donating to charities, taking another club from the brink of liquidation to a seven-day-a-week thriving non-league football club. I helped with the integration and growth of a town’s junior section, which currently has over 600 children playing grassroots football in unity. It fails to mention the large sponsorships or the million pound 4G surface I installed with my business partner for the benefit of the community and children.

No, the article only wanted to publicise things that I was found NOT guilty of in order to muddy the waters before releasing information about a spent conviction they had no legal right to publicise. This was not great investigative journalism either, this was pre-packaged for The Athletic, and also contained no mention that prior to the convicted offence and since I was convicted there has been no other convictions.

The Athletic also reported me to the Football Association. Despite this, they did not feel it appropriate to wait for the outcome of that investigation before releasing their article. The reason for this is that they have full knowledge that my conviction was spent and that I did not break any rules in not declaring it. If the Football Association themselves do not require notification of a spent conviction at the time of my application, or indeed now at this level and even on the new EFL applications my conviction would not cause my application to fail, then how can The Athletic deem this to be in the public interest. This matter is now in the hands of my lawyers.

I have known about the Athletic article for many weeks, I have spent thousands on yet another fight to try blocking it obviously without success.

Due to the pending article and unknowing of what response I’d receive, I decided to fund the top-up for wages ONLY for the last six weeks. This has obviously been noticeable with several CCJs issued along with outstanding redundancy payments and today a winding up petition being issued. The article was expected to have been released before it was and I didn’t want to keep ploughing money into a club that I was potentially going to be run out of when the article appeared. It would have been money I could never have retrieved. The support I have been shown however has been moving. On that basis as I have previously said ,,I will now release further funds from personal assets and continue to fund the club moving forward. Unfortunately, there will be a further winding-up petition issued imminently by the HMRC however please do not be concerned. I know that is hard but I will pay the petitions in full and continue to work through the clubs remaining debt.

At my request last Friday, Keith Waters has offered his resignation and will be removed from our Board of Directors immediately. The remainder of the board are committed to the club.

I will not be monitoring media channels, I will not be issuing anymore statements personally or discussing anything regarding my past, anything further will be club related and it will come directly from the club.

I would like to apologise if I have upset individuals or supporters at any point by comments that I have made. At times I have been defensive and naive, and I really hope our supporters can be unified, regardless of opinion. We all have to be one. To assist this, I would like to invite representatives from Iron-Bru, the Iron Trust, the Official Supporters Club, the Iron Hour Podcast and the Scunny United Facebook Group to attend a meeting with myself and my Board of Directors in the hope that better relationships can be forged between each other and the clubs board.

I will apologise to you all again, and request that we no longer make this about me. You share a love for a football club that desperately needs your full attention. Jimmy and the lads, my hard working staff, and everybody in the town deserve some success and in being united I am certain it can be delivered.

David Hilton

This is how Twitter users reacted as David Hilton puts Scunthorpe up for sale and claims he will deal with the new winding up petition expected to come their way shortly…

@mac0602: When you read the statement from David Hilton it make’s extremely grim ready , winding up order petition from the HMRC and a rap sheet which means no one will buy it , nails in the coffin but still questions remain about David Hilton and why he ever bought the club

@HCfootball01: Nobhead. Driving up a ridiculous wage bill, and he was expecting to be found out for what he did. Did an interview on soundcloud ffs that was deleted, absolutely conman. Fit and proper checks must not be a thing.

@saleiron: There’s a lot to unpack here, but an interesting subplot is why did Hilton ask Waters to resign as a Director after 6 weeks in post?

@BrummieTricky: What Dave did was wrong, but that isn’t a life sentence, he’s paid for his crimes and he should be allowed to rehabilitate and become a better person which he’s done 10 fold. You shouldn’t judge him for his past, but what he does in the future

@jamescrockart: As a grimsby fan, i do not want to see a local rival club go bust, but the future looks bleak. Hopefully something can be resolved and soon.

@Got4wheels: The club cannot survive like this, I fear for our future once again. Hilton should never have bothered in the first place. I tried to support him, I gave him the benefit of the doubt on his past. I’m now angry, he’s basically saying no one will buy us, yet we’re up for sale

@mac0602: A long statement that makes very grim reading, a doomed football club I’m afraid but questions remain over Mr Hilton , surely in this day and age of due diligence a lot of the financial woes would have come to light prior to purchasing the club

@Scunnylado: We had no Club under Swann anyway no worse off… Nothing we can do just ride it out…. Think the Athletic are pricks personally

@smarris92: Support for Mr Hilton is crucial for all parties. We have no other option. I’ll continue to back him instead of knocking someone to the ground constantly. So should you. We all want the same thing. UTI!

@nickcooper1974: Doubt there’s a better solution. He has a chance to prove some people wrong.

@Kevlong51: Hope he can keep us going ,nothing else to lose have we, something is better than nothing, keep going Mr Hilton, suprised that Ian sharp is adding to his woes …

@sufc_mike: Well that certainly answered my earlier questions about the size of the task of making the club sustainable. I still believe DH is the man to take this club forward.

@GrimsbyBoy1984: Absolutely bonkers . A club unable to operate, so you saddle it with more debt – they will turnover about 600k P/A on ticket sales according to him ,yet he has indulged in a wage budget probably double that ?! ….. In massive trouble

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