The trustees of Chorlton Irish Club in Manchester have announced plans to save the organisation from closure after a sustained campaign.
Instead of the popular establishment closing its doors in order to resolve a large unpaid tax bill, the club intends to wind up the existing business and reopen as a new private members club.
This comes after a campaign to save Chorlton Irish Club grew following an online battle, including a petition which gathered over 5,500 signatures, as well as support from a local Labour councillor.
The High Lane venue, known formerly as The Irish Association Social Club, was issued with a £117,000 VAT bill in December.
The unpaid amount, combined with other taxes, estimates and surcharges, is expected to grow to around £140,000.
Trustees say the tax bill will be paid but in the meantime, a new committee will be formed to manage the running of the business.
The ‘new’ private members club will be known as The Chorlton Irish Club.
A statement posted on the Chorlton Irish Club Facebook page said: “Following successive years of failure to manage the VAT accounts of the club and recent failure to produce Annual Accounts to the members for inspection the Trustees were issued with charges by HMRC in December last.
“For amounts in excess of £117,000 for unpaid VAT and other taxes due by the club. This amount is expected to grow to approx £140,000 with further estimates and surcharges.
“Following a Joint Statement by the Trustees issued to the management they seized control of the premises at 17 High Lane on 1st April 2019 on behalf of the members.”
Once a new committee has been established, new and old members of the old club will be able to enrol.
A campaign was launched to save Chorlton Irish Club after plans to sell the High Lane venue were announced at the beginning of March.
A “case for closure” was emailed to club members on March 6, stating the situation had become “urgent” with “outstanding debts immediately due”.
A petition subsequently set up by the ‘Friends of Chorlton Irish Club’ gathered more than 5,500 signatures.
“We are greatly encouraged by the Trustees’ efforts to save the club and enable new members to start joining again, which will hopefully enable its success for the benefit of the community now and into the future,” the Friends of Chorlton Club said.
Founded in 1956, the club has provided a meeting place for the local Irish community in south Manchester for over half a century.
Today, it is owned by its members and is used for private functions, fitness classes and comedy nights, and is seen as central to the Irish-Manchester population.