Are Macclesfield Town following Bolton Wanderers and Bury into deep trouble?

Moss Rose Stadium
Photo: Ben Sutherland (CC BY 2.0)

After the collapse of Bury and the panic of Bolton Wanderers earlier this season, League Two outfit Macclesfield Town are the latest club to face a financial crisis. But what exactly is happening at Moss Rose?

Problems for the Cheshire club began at the start of the year when players went unpaid for three months. After threatening to boycott matches, six players issued a winding-up order against the club. The case was twice adjourned by the courts and in October, the squad revealed that owner Amar Alkadhi had once again failed to pay them.

Both players and staff released a statement on 3 November asking the EFL to help them and prevent another club from dissolving. The following week, first-team players went on strike and refused to train, while local businessman Joe Sealey publicly announced his intentions to take over the club.

“We think we can sustain the club, help build it and grow it,” he said. “I’ve been in contact with the chairman and owner and the manager of the football club. I live locally so most of the people involved with the club we’ve spoken to, including the lawyers.”

The strike continued into the weekend and the first-team refused to play in the FA Cup First Round, while several supporters opted to boycott the game. The club resorted to using youth players, handing debuts to six youngsters with the rest of the starting XI made up of loanees, and suffered an embarrassing 4–0 defeat to non-league Kingstonian. The exit is likely to have cost the club around £100,000 in potential prize money.

The club’s struggles continued into the next week, with players told not to train or play as they were no longer insured. An EFL statement followed the next day to announce a formal investigation and a 24-hour deadline for the club to respond to their queries about their sustainability. Shortly after, reports from BBC Radio Manchester revealed that health insurance premiums had been paid and players had returned to training on Tuesday.

By the time of the EFL’s deadline, Macclesfield had paid only three players, according to BBC journalist Ian Dennis. He also reported that if the first-team had not been paid in full by Friday, they may strike again. A lack of action could result in detrimental consequences for Town, as the youth team players called upon in the FA Cup are not registered to play in League Two.

Macclesfield suffered a 3–1 defeat to Shrewsbury Town in the EFL Trophy later that evening, although some first-team players had returned to a stronger squad. Suggestions amongst fans emerged that Sealey had since withdrawn his offer to purchase the club, due to a rumoured substantial points deduction that was believed to be announced on 14 November.

A statement from the EFL indeed followed with the club charged with misconduct for non-payment of wages, although due to the club fulfilling it’s EFL Trophy obligations, the league immediately released the club’s earnings in order to assist the payment of wages. A points deduction was not announced at the time.

Potential owner Sealey also discussed his hopes for the club that afternoon, revealing he had been in contact with Alkadhi for the past four weeks. Sealey said he was willing to immediately invest £1 million into the club to remove debt and build an infrastructure that could help secure the club’s future. He aims to add an academy, external staff and double the current wage bill.

“We withdrew our first offer on Tuesday morning because I just didn’t get a response from him,” he told talkSPORT. “We’re expecting this afternoon to be putting in our best, and final, offer by about 5 pm. I hope that we get somewhere.”

News also emerged that players and staff had reported Alkadhi to the police, as pension contributions had come out of their wages but were not added into their pensions.

The PFA have stepped in to help ensure players receive the correct amounts, although there are still doubts about whether the club can field a team in their weekend clash with Mansfield.

UCLan Live approached Macclesfield Town for comment but did not receive a response.