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Thu July 18 2019

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Directors ban for football stadium developer

11 Feb A property developer who received millions of pounds of public money for a football stadium project has been banned from running companies for 10 years.

Northampton Town's Sixfields Stadium
Northampton Town's Sixfields Stadium

Howard Lawrence Grossman, aged 57 and from Bushey, Hertfordshire, has been handed a directors ban for his role in the Northampton Town Football Club stadium affair.

1ST Land Limited was incorporated in August 2013, with Howard Grossman as sole director, to act as contractor for Northampton Town Football Club, which wanted to redevelop its Sixfields Stadium.

Between December 2013 and July 2014, 1ST Land received at least £6m from Northampton FC to go towards the costs of redeveloping the stadium. The football club in-turn received the funds from Northampton Borough Council as a loan.

However, by January 2015, 1ST Land entered into administration following the petition of a creditor before entering into creditors voluntarily liquidation in December 2015.

Northamptonshire police and the Insolvency Service investigated and discovered that Howard Grossman failed to keep adequate accounting records or deliver a sufficient amount of records to the administrators. As a result, no one could tell where the money had gone.

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Approximately £2.65m was transferred to two separate third parties, but it is not clear if they were made as loans, and under what terms.

Another payment that investigators were unable to establish was whether approximately £1.5m was paid to the benefit of Howard Grossman, his family and other connected parties and whether such payments were treated as dividends.

Insolvency Service chief investigator Sue MacLeod said: “Howard Grossman, like all directors, had specific duties as a company director but he blatantly disregarded them. The company’s insufficiencies when it came to record keeping means that we are unable to determine the exact nature of payments worth millions of pounds of tax-payers money, who along with supporters of the football club are the real victims here.

“We have been able to secure a substantial ban for Howard Grossman and if he breaches his disqualification, he risks being sent to prison.”

Northamptonshire police are continuing their investigation into the missing Northampton Borough Council loan money and is working with other prosecuting authorities to recover public funds.

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