Castle Creditors: Where’s The Money?

Bands and suppliers who lost thousands over the September 17th rock show at the U.K.’s Scarborough Castle are urging the promotion company’s liquidators to find out exactly where the money went.

An October 26th meeting at Hull’s Quality Royal Hotel heard how the issue has already caused scuffles between a few creditors and the event organisers, which resulted in the police being called to the historic site to calm things down.

“On September 19th (two days after the concert), while arrangements were being made to clear the site at Scarborough Castle, a number of creditors attended the site seeking settlement of their accounts and as there were insufficient funds to do so scuffles broke out which resulted in the police being called,” is how the report to creditors explains the incident.

Matthew Bowker and David Willis of insolvency practitioners Jacksons Jolliffe Cork, who are now confirmed as joint liquidators, have undertaken to launch a thorough investigation into how In The Castle Ltd finished up with debts of £113,000 (US$200,000) and only £5,570 to cover them.

Crowd estimates pitched the attendance at around 3,500 – which would have brought around £100,000 from the gate – but a company report signed by In The Castle directors Andy Roberts and John Cooper says only 2,400 tickets were sold. That makes the door gross around £70,000.

However, the alarming figures are the ones that say In The Castle would have needed to sell a further 3,700 tickets to wipe its deficits. That would have put total sales up to 6,100 – and 1,100 over the site’s licensed capacity. It seems a sellout would have still left In The Castle more than £30,000 shy of breaking even.

The bottom line is that, after fees and costs, each creditor will be getting what amounts to no more than loose change.

Detective Sergeant Nigel Farthing of North Yorkshire Police is liaising with the Crown Prosecution Service to see if In The Castle Ltd (or any of its directors) has traded fraudulently, including when knowingly insolvent.

The directors’ statement also blames “the loss of revenue from beverage and food sales as a result of logistical issues,” which is another subject the creditors have asked Jacksons Jolliffe Cork to check out.

According to Roberts and Cooper, what caused the company to tank – as opposed to just taking a drop on the show – was the fact it couldn’t trade its way out of trouble because site managers English Heritage scrubbed their longer-term contract to promote there.

“We were going down the route of honouring our debts and moving the company forward, but now we’ve lost future contracts that won’t be easy,” Cooper told Pollstar when it first became obvious that the one-dayer on the Yorkshire coast was going to end up as a financial fiasco.

David Bailey, head of visitor ops for English Heritage, which is down as being owed £3,750 for the balance of the site hire, said the organisation was alarmed that tempers had risen to the point where the police were called, but it had first become wary of what was happening in the two or three days leading up to the event.

“Things on site weren’t going along exactly how we’d been told they would, and there was the question of the payment, but they kept reassuring me that there were a couple of small problems that they were already sorting out,” he explained.

Bailey insisted that English Heritage, the government’s statutory adviser on the historic environment, hasn’t been deterred from having live music at the 900-year-old monument and is keen to talk to promoters.

Those who got hit when the Castle’s walls came tumbling down include Innovation Productions (£31,000), AP Security (£10,401), Andrassy Marquees (£8,500), Acorn Scaffolding (£7,350), Elliot Loohire (£3,480), Greenwoods Hire (£2,781), North Yorkshire Police (£2,500) and Scarborough Council (£1,100).

— John Gammon