Preston North End chairman of football Peter Ridsdale has been banned from being a company director.
Ridsdale has given a voluntary undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills which bars him from acting as a company director or from managing a company for seven-and-a-half years.
The ban arises from the liquidation of the WH Sports Group Limited of which the 60-year-old was a director.
WHSG went into liquidation in April 2009 with assets of £22,592 and liabilities of at least £478,698, with £442,353 of that sum owed to HM Revenue and Customs.
Ridsdale’s wife, Sophie, a co-director of WHSG, has been disqualified for three-and-a-half years after giving a similar undertaking.
It was in December last year that Ridsdale, who lives in Carnforth, was appointed North End’s Chairman of Football by club owner Trevor Hemmings.
He took over shortly after Maurice Lindsay stepped down because of ill health, Lindsay having held the title of chairman.
It’s understood that the title of ‘Chairman of Football’ and not chairman was specifically given as it was known that Ridsdale’s involvement in WHSG was being investigated, with Hemmings made fully aware of the state of play.
Ridsdale is also employed by one of Hemmings’ companies, not by PNE.
In a statement issued through North End, Ridsdale said: “I can confirm that I have agreed a voluntary undertaking not to act as a company director as a result of ongoing issues with a personal matter which occurred in 2009.
“I am currently undertaking a role of ‘Chairman of Football’ at Preston North End, but am not a director, nor at any time have I sought to be one.
“The issues that have brought about this voluntary undertaking are currently in the hands of my lawyers, who are dealing with all outstanding issues, including the professional advice that was given to both myself and my personal company at the time.”
WHSG was a company which provided sports and leisure consultancy services to football clubs, with it trading for six years between 2003 and 2009.
In signing the voluntary undertaking, Ridsdale did not dispute four findings made The Insolvency Service which investigated the matter.
• Between May 2007 and March 2009, he acted improperly and in breach of his duties to WHSG by causing payments totalling £347,000, received for invoices raised by WHSG for services provided to a football club of which he was the chairman, to be paid into personal bank accounts held in his own name, to the detriment of WHSG and its creditors.
• He also failed to disclose the relevant transactions to the liquidator of WHSG, who did not become aware of them until July 2010, when information was provided by the football club.
• He failed to ensure that WHSG complied with its statutory obligations to make Corporation Tax, PAYE and National Insurance Contributions (NIC), and VAT, returns and payments to HMRC as and when they were due. At liquidation, WHSG’s liabilities included £166,421 in unpaid Corporation Tax, £102,279, in unpaid PAYE and NIC, and £173,653 relating to unpaid VAT.
• He failed to ensure that WHSG complied with its statutory obligations to prepare and file accounts with the Registrar of Companies by the due dates for three successive accounting periods.