A Blackpool social club was forced to close down after being charged huge fees by a debt management business, BBC’s Panorama will claim tonight.
Businessman Glyn Jones is accused of making millions of pounds by ‘asset stripping’ debt-laden sports and working men’s clubs which used his services.
The programme, which airs at 8.30pm tonight, says Mr Jones offered debt management and restructuring services to as many as 50 clubs in financial difficulty via his Chesterfield-based Minotaur group of companies.
Complaints made by the 33 clubs spoken to by the BBC range from fees not being explained to representatives being rushed into signing complex paperwork to allow assets to be transferred to Minotaur Clubs Partnership.
The Panorama investigation also claims Mr Jones was endorsed by the Club and Institute Union (CIU) which continued to recommend his services despite complaints from some if its 1,600 members.
Blackpool’s Number One Club, on Bloomfield Road, South Shore, was one of the venues which used Minotaur’s services after receiving a letter in 2014.
After receiving a secured loan, the club was told its building would be sold and leased back for an initial ‘peppercorn rent’.
Club secretary Tracy Whittle said he was expecting between £60,000 and £70,000 from the sale after the initial loan of £47,000 from Minotaur, interest and charges was deducted.
However, the club received a bill for £147,843, meaning it owed Minotaur £843.
The bill included tens of thousands of pounds in charges which the club says it was not expecting.
After challenging Minotaur, the club received £5,000 but was forced to close in 2016 because the rent of £16,000-a-year was unaffordable.
Mr Whittle said: “There is no way we would have signed up for that cost. We might as well have given the club away.”
Mr Jones said all fees had been explained in documentation.
He said: “To the very last one, all trustees, committee members and decision makers in each club were provided with documentation in advance of signing and advised to take independent legal advice.
“The business that Minotaur Clubs Partnership was engaged in was of high risk, providing funding to badly managed and insolvent clubs.
“The partnership sourced funding from outside investors who knew the risks but expected returns accordingly.
“All the clubs which are mentioned were delighted when they received the monies arranged by the partnership.”