Six former players have defended their decision to lead a winding-up petition against Macclesfield Town, following criticism in a club statement.
Macclesfield accused the players of “trying to close down” the 145-year-old club, after they used the petition to claw back unpaid wages.
The six, who applied to dismiss the petition once their money had been recovered, said it was a “last resort”.
HM Revenue and Customs has now taken over the petition.
The High Court hearing has been adjourned until 11 September, and the Silkmen say they have the funds to resolve the matter before the hearing. Wednesday’s appearance at the High Court was the club’s fourth in four months.
Shamir Mullings, Elliott Durrell, Rhys Taylor, Jamie Grimes, Ryan Lloyd and Keith Lowe, all named by the club, took on the petition in July after failing to receive salary payments. While some have gone on to find new clubs following their departures from Moss Rose, others have yet to secure new deals.
“At no point did they want Macclesfield Town go out of existence, they just wanted what they were owed,” said David Seligman, the players’ lawyer.
He told BBC Radio Manchester: “They aren’t Premier League footballers, they are earning very modest salaries, living month-to-month, paying rent, for food, for their children, and they couldn’t afford it.
“They had basically exhausted all avenues, and they could not continue any more without being paid.”
Although Macclesfield’s statement – which also named the players involved for the first time – accepted liability for the delay in payments which accounted for three months of wages, they were critical of the group for going through the court process.
“It was disappointing that the aforementioned players did not progress their concerns through the normal channels (eg. the PFA),” the club statement said.” [They] instead decided to try and close down our 145-year-old club through the courts.
“By taking this course of action, payment was actually delayed further and created a situation which was detrimental to both parties.”
Seligman said there was no other choice for players, given their personal financial situations.
“Some players could not put fuel in the car, some couldn’t pay their rent and some were getting letters from bailiffs,” he added.
“It was very a dire time for them, and as a last resort when they didn’t know where to go, I said there was a petition live that they should join. Some of them are particularly upset, because they have good memories of playing for the club, winning promotion and keeping them in the Football League and did not want to see them wound up.
“But when it came down to putting in the petition it was the only way – and they were going to get a substantial amount of money. I’m sure Macclesfield Town fans can sympathise – they probably can’t go three months without pay.”