ACCRINGTON Stanley face an uphill battle to avoid being wound up today after failing to raise £308,000 to pay off an unpaid tax bill.

The Reds yesterday sent Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs around £200,000, according to chief executive Rob Heys.

But bosses said they remained optimistic that a judge sitting at the High Court in London would be sympathetic and allow ‘an extra couple of weeks’ to find the outstanding amount.

Eight weeks ago Stanley were told the cash must be repaid by today or the club would be wound up with its assets used to pay off the debt.

And it is believed that Stanley face a struggle to avoid the winding up order due to the club’s poor record on abiding by previous compromises.

Such a High Court deadline is regarded as the ‘last chance’ for a business to avoid being shut down by the courts.

The blow comes less than a fortnight after Stanley chiefs said they had sorted out a deal to save the club.

Pledges from local businessmen of £50,000 short-term loans are said to have been withdrawn.

And the fundraising total officially stands at £116,000, less than the £150,000 target.

Directors of the club say they are putting £100,000 of their own money in, meaning the Reds have repaid around £216,000 so far.

Chief Executive Rob Heys and Chairman David O’Neill went through a last minute process of counting up funds and sending through all available cash yesterday before speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph.

Mr Heys said the club had experienced some problems accessing funds on time, including credit card donations which have not yet cleared and fundraising amounts which are not yet in.

He said: “We have encountered a few last minute problems and we do not yet have the full £308,000.

“A few things have not come in on time but we are confident that we will be able to show the court the remaining funds will be availble within a week or couple of weeks.

“It is very disappointing as we had hoped to draw a line under it by today.

“Especially with the team doing so well on the pitch, the FA Cup coming up and the ground re-development we had planned. It is an exciting time ahead and we wanted to focus on that as soon as possible.”

Mr Heys said the directors had put ‘property on the line’ to raise their £100,000.

He said: “Of course it is up to the court but we have every reason to feel positive.

“Our legal team have given us a lot of encouragement and we have been to court once before and know what to expect.

“At the last hearing we were one of 30 cases and the only business wound up were those not trading and not able to show where the money would come from.

“The others were given additional time, even those stamped as final. I don’t think HMRC are in the habit of shutting down businesses which are working.”

On the withdrawals of support from local businessmen, Mr Heys said: “It’s not as though they were obliged to give us the cash so we certainly wouldn’t criticise anyone for changing their mind.”

Stockbroker Ilyas Khan has offered to pay the debt, but only in exchange for shares to the value of his donation.

However Reds chiefs declined as they do not want to relinquish control.

Mr Khan last night said he was still prepared to hand over and cash that the club was missing but said that he would only pay directly to the tax man.

He said: “I am hoping, just like everyone connected with the club is, that the court listens to their pleas for lieniency.

“It should never have got to this stage. All along I have offered to pay the debt but I have been ignored.

“The track record of the club in the past would leave something to be desired and that is why the High Court hearing is such a concern.

“I am very nervous about the hearing and I fear the worst.”

Mr Khan said he had offered to pay the players wages, a bill of £20,000, to aid the club in the short-term.

Hyndburn Council leader Peter Britcliffe also said he was very worried.

He said: “I wasn’t convinced when the club said recently that it had raised all of the money.

“It seems to me that they will be on a wing and a prayer in the hearing tomorrow. It is very sad that it has got to this stage. ”