THE owners of former football club Rossendale United have been given a 12-week deadline by London’s High Court to clear a £37,000 VAT bill.

Registrar Nicholls gran-ted the company time to pay the debt after Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs applied to have it wound up over the unpaid debt.

Newchurch-based Rossendale United FC, founded in 1898, was expelled from the North West Counties League Premier Division in the 2009-10 season because of financial problems and the Newchurch stadium has been a target for vandals and arsonists.

This culminated in a major fire on January 15 which gutted the main stand and took 30 firefighters to bring under control.

Director Andrew Connolly said after yesterday’s hearing that the club's Dark Lane stadium site is up for sale, and that he was pursuing planning permission for redevelopment.

Consultants have produced proposals for 50 new homes.

As a result, Mr Connolly said that the company hopes to clear the £37,000 debt.