Peter Hood has returned fire on Stephen Coulby and mounted a vigorous defence of his Odsal reign after coming under attack from the newly-appointed Bulls director.
Coulby claimed in Saturday’s Telegraph & Argus that the Bulls’ cash crisis was far worse than originally thought and that Hood and Andrew Bennett had budgeted to lose over £1million this year.
After an independent review of the club’s finances, Coulby said that around £1.25million was needed to meet the club’s debts and take it forward until the end of the year.
He claimed that Hood and Bennett failed to pay a £250,000 VAT bill on the deal which saw them sell the lease on Odsal to the RFL before taking out a “six-figure loan” in March.
Yet Hood, who along with Bennett was forced to step down as a director last month by the club’s majority shareholders, paving the way for the appointment of Coulby and Rowland Agar onto the board, has strenuously denied the claims.
Hood, who is still a significant shareholder with 20 per cent of all issued shares, has asked chief executive Ryan Duckett to put him in touch with whoever conducted the financial review.
Hood in a statement: “On the question of VAT, Coulby is reported as saying that Andrew Bennett and I “failed to pay a £250,000 VAT bill on the deal which saw them sell the lease on Odsal to the RFL.
“What Coulby for some reason chooses not to mention, however, is an arrangement whereby this VAT would be paid at £50,000 per month over the five months commencing May 2012. Not quite the same as “failed to pay”, I suggest.
“It is not unusual for businesses to arrange to pay large, exceptional VAT charges in this manner.
“The Bulls’ regular VAT bills due for the period ended March 2012, meanwhile, were paid in full and on time.
“Coulby goes on to say that ‘Hood and his former co-director Bennett budgeted to lose over £1million this year’. This is not true.
“There is a cashflow model that shows that, if nothing happened to generate new monies, based on a full salary cap spend and other substantial football costs, then the result would be a loss of over £1million.
“But as we know, the Pledge For Survival raised over half a million of new cash from fans and friends of the club, including from myself and Andrew Bennett and Ryan Duckett but not, so far as I recall, from messrs (Chris) Caisley, Coulby or Agar.
“Added to which, as the continuing director Ryan Duckett is in a position to confirm, discussions were well advanced with a number of well-funded potential sponsors at the time Bennett and I were forced out.”
Hood said there had been a written offer from Warrington on the table for John Bateman and that the “six-figure loan” that Coulby spoke of was merely an advance from the RFL.
Hood said: “There was no such loan. The cash in question was an advance of the club’s own broadcast rights distributions (TV money) from Super League, in the sum of £110,000.
“In other words, this is the club drawing down its own money, in advance, to ease cash-flow. Not unlike someone getting a salary or wages advance, in fact.
“Is that a loan? Not in the way Coulby would have T&A readers believe, it isn’t.
“Coulby says that a total of ‘£1.25 million was needed to meet the club’s debts and take it forward until the end of next year’. But can this truly be the case?
“The club had substantial funds at bank and no overdraft when Andrew Bennett and I went. It owed no PAYE or routine VAT.
“It owed tax on the stadium and ‘image rights’ but these were to be paid over time. It had ordinary creditors, as any business has, but it also had money due to it.
“It also had Warrington’s cash offer for John Bateman. It had to pay wages ongoing but had the benefit of ongoing Super League TV income and other central distributions.
“Plus there were big new sponsorship discussions well advanced. I don’t recognise that as adding up to a shortfall of £1.25m or anything like it.
“So why is Stephen Coulby being so economical with the truth? Could it be, perhaps, that he seeks to paint a scenario to justify an imminent plunge into administration, all the while protesting this is the last thing he and his colleagues want?”
* See Peter Hood’s statement in full at www.telegraphandargus.co.uk