THE owner of Blackpool’s legendary Funny Girls club today hit out at rumours about its future.
Basil Newby, boss of In The Pink Leisure, said his group was going from strength-to-strength, had enjoyed one of its best years yet.
His comments follow a number of calls to The Gazette expressing concern over the future of the group, which operates venues Funny Girls, the Flamingo, The Flying Handbag, Buzz and Roxy’s.
One concerned club-goer who did not wish to be named, told The Gazette: “The group is in trouble and has borrowed a lot of money. I don’t think the venues can carry on the way they are. Some staff are worried that they may not get paid.”
But Mr Newby, a former Pontins Bluecoat who started his business empire in 1980, said: “We are up on last year so I have no idea where all the talk has come from.
“Our numbers are way up. We may even expand next year and our outlook is very positive – the company is making healthy profits.
“Talk like that can be very dangerous though – we do a lot of business with a lot of people in town.
“As for rumours, last week I heard I was buying the Syndicate, and also Ma Kellys.
“I take it all with a pinch of salt.
“We have invested in Blackpool and been here more than 30 years and In The Pink is now worth more than £12m,
“I think someone is being a bit vindictive.”
Company accounts show in 2009, turnover was at £4.6m – slightly down on 2008 – and a loss for the financial year of £363,959. Net debt was £4.8m.
But Mr Newby said this was normal for a large business and added: “The first two years we opened the new Flamingo nightclub, the costs were high as we overspent. It’s taken two to three years to turn it around but this year the books show a healthy profit.
“What business doesn’t borrow money?”
The entrepreneur said complaints may also have arisen as Blackpool’s gay scene changes.
The new Flamingo club is now attracting straight clubbers.
He said: “It is very mixed now – equality laws mean we can’t refuse entry because someone is straight.
“A lot of the older gay community think we should have a club for gay, and another for straight people – but times have changed.
“And some people may be reacting to the fact that Betty Legs Diamond left Funny Girls.”