Dodgy Football Fat Cats like Peter Ridsdale Must Be Punished

Last month, the Insolvency Service banned football club chairman Peter Ridsdale (pictured) from holding company directorships for seven-and-a-half years.

Under Ridsdale’s chairmanship, Cardiff City football club accrued debts exceeding £42m between 2006 and 2010.

During the same period, Ridsdale secretly and unlawfully transferred more than £345,000 from Cardiff City into his personal bank account, and ignored a £442,000 tax bill issued to his consultancy firm WH Sports Group (WHSG).

He is a very lucky man because if you, I, or any normal citizen diverted £345,000 or devised some elaborate scheme to avoid paying HMRC taxes, we would be charged, prosecuted and sent to prison for a long time.

At the very least Ridsdale should have been brought to the Crown Court and made to explain how revenue from the football club ended up in his personal bank account. This was not a misdemeanor, but a serious case of theft.

Ridsdale’s actions are clearly in breach of his fiduciary duties as a director. He has let down Cardiff City’s shareholders, directors and – most of all – the club’s fans and creditors.

Sadly, this is just another example of a fat cat helping himself to the cream. But what is the Financial Services Authority doing about this and why have no criminal prosecution charges been brought?

Similarly, the Insolvency Service need to explain why they only enforced a seven-and-a-half year ban upon Ridsdale, but did not refer the matter to the police.

WHSG fell into liquidation in 2009 owing £442,000 to HMRC, but what exactly did the administrators do? Surely they should have compelled Ridsdale to repatriate the funds he transferred or rendered him bankrupt?

Moreover, the Cardiff City debacle is not the first time Ridsdale’s professional conduct has been called into question.

Under his chairmanship between 1997 and 2003, Leeds United football club became saddled with debt, fell into administration and was eventually relegated from the Premier League.

According to the terms of the ban, Ridsdale can neither hold a directorship nor take part in the promotion, formation or management of a company.

However, he is currently chairman of Preston North End football club, but insists the role involves no directorship.

Irrespective of what Ridsdale says, he should not be trusted with another club and the fans at Preston North End need to keep their eyes open for any further irregularities.


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