DARWEN FC is facing a winding-up order over alleged unpaid advertising debts, it has been revealed.

Bosses at the club have been given a deadline of Thursday (June 19) to respond to the order from solicitors acting on behalf of The Bee radio station.

But club owner Ted Ward insisted 'the debt will be paid'.

It is understood that the alleged debts total over £8,000 and relate to a series of adverts placed on the radio station in the past year.

A hearing is now set to take place at Preston County Court on Friday, June 20.

The petition that has been lodged by solicitors will now cause the club's bankers to freeze its bank account.

The club will not be able to draw cheques on its accounts for payment of employees salaries or other expenses for running the business.

Simon Brierley, station manager at The Bee, said: "As an independent small business our cashflow is critical to our survival.

"It is therefore company policy to take all necessary steps to recoup any money owing to us to allow us to continue to provide a service to our listeners and customers."

Darwen Football and Rugby Club is based at the Anchor Stadium in Anchor Road, Darwen, and was incorporated at a limited company in April last year following a takeover from businessman Mr Ward.

In a brief statement Mr Ward said: "The debt will be paid." He declined to comment further.

Darwen FC can trace its beginnings more than 130 years as one of the first members of the Football League after its creation in 1888.

Darwen are now in division two of the Vodkat Northwest Counties League.

Recently Mr Ward announced plans to build a 5,000 capacity stadium, with shops and a hotel, on land at Robin Bank in Darwen.

Bosses at Blackburn with Darwen Council, which owns the site, say they were approached to buy the land but there were no "firm proposals " at this stage.

When Mr Ward took over the club in January 2007 he pledged to invest £3million and build leisure facilities at the Anchor Ground for the community.