Women’s Championship club Coventry United have been deducted 10 points by the Football Association, two days after they were saved from the brink of liquidation by an eleventh-hour takeover.
Despite narrowly avoiding closure thanks to the company’s latest purchase by Energy Angels CEO Lewis Taylor – which was verbally agreed and is expected to be formally completed in the coming days – the club has been punished by the FA for triggering an insolvency event, in accordance with league rules.
Coventry United announced on December 23 that it had gone into “voluntary liquidation” and subsequently sent its players and staff redundancy notices. Taylor’s takeover saved the club from that fate, but with the club having already instructed BK Plus liquidators, the FA imposed penalty means they will now drop from 6 points to -4 points, sliding to the bottom of the championship table. below rivals Watford and in the division’s only relegation spot.
Sports Telegraph understands that the new owner of Coventry is considering appealing.
The most recent point deduction regarding insolvency rules in the English professional women’s game came in 2019, when top-flight side Yeovil Town were also deducted 10 points. In Yeovil’s case, the sanction came after they formally signaled their intention to appoint administrators, although subsequent financial backing from the FA meant the Somerset club ultimately never went into administration .
Taylor completes takeover
Coventry United were saved from the brink of liquidation after shareholders reached a verbal agreement for a sale of the club in the 11th hour.
Businessman Lewis Taylor, owner of Energy Angels, the Midlands-based energy company, will now become the sole owner of Coventry United, which went into ‘voluntary liquidation’ on December 23 and was due to close by BK Plus liquidators on Tuesday evening at 23:49 (GMT).
But that was averted after a tentative deal to save the club was reached on Tuesday, leaving Taylor on the verge of essentially buying the company for £1 in return for taking on existing debts.
The official takeover of the club could take a few more days, but the verbal agreement between the parties had been deemed sufficient to dismiss the liquidators and stop the process of closing the company.
Taylor has pledged to invest in the region of £200,000-250,000 initially to ensure the club can complete the season and plan for the future.
In an interview with Sports Telegraph, Taylor said it was the ‘right thing to do’ trying to buy the club. He wants to immediately pay player and staff salaries for December – which multiple sources say have not been paid by the club – and get the team back to the training ground as soon as possible.
Reacting to news of the verbal agreement on Tuesday night, Taylor said Sports Telegraph“The heads of mandate have been agreed, so it has succeeded in stopping the liquidation process. It’s the biggest win we wanted today and it came to fruition.
“It could take up to a week for everything to be done, we still have to complete the legal transfer of ownership of the club, which will now take place in the next few days, but this is the first step completed.
“I want everyone to know that the current owners and BK Plus have been extremely supportive of this process, there hasn’t been an aggressive group of people around the board table trying to sort this out, c is actually a lot of like-minded people all trying to come together to help save the football club.
Taylor is already a financial backer of women’s football, as her company Energy Angels sponsors Wolves Women, who are third in the northern section of women’s football’s third tier.
Coventry United have been struggling financially after becoming a full-time professional side last summer.
Taylor intends to give his full support to team manager Jay Bradford and believes the team is more than capable of staying in the Championship this season despite the points deduction.
Meanwhile, a public and crowdfunded fundraiser for players – who were ‘devastated’ after learning the club would close remotely via a Microsoft Teams video call on December 23 – topped £14,000 in donations on Tuesday afternoon.
Their first scheduled game after the Championship winter break, an away trip to Bristol City on January 9, was canceled according to a statement from the West Country club on December 29.
A statement from the BK Plus liquidators said: “Since the beginning of December 2021, BK Plus accountants and business advisers have been working with the business, initially seeking a buyer for the business, and, when it appeared that no buyer would be found, start the liquidation process. On January 4, 2022 at 4:52 p.m., these instructions were terminated and the company did not proceed to liquidation.
Richard Tonks, insolvency practitioner at BK Plus, added: “The notice of liquidation has caused understandable disappointment to everyone connected with the club, including players and staff. The notice of proceedings has also sparked a lot of external interest and concern, and resulted in offers to try to save the party club in the UK and overseas.
“It is unusual to be in a position to deal with parties wishing to salvage a business which, for all other purposes, is at the point of no return. However, we have been happy to work with the company over the festive period in providing information and support to a number of parties who had expressed an interest in preventing the company from going into liquidation.
“With a statutory deadline looming, all parties needed to act quickly to avoid liquidation and we were pleased to be part of the process leading to the Heads of Warrant’s agreement to sell the shares of the company. Our instructions to liquidate the Company could then be terminated. Obviously, a sale has yet to be finalized and we remain available to support all parties involved in order to close a sale as soon as possible.