Eric France: Wildcats to lose six-figure sponsor

Lee Smith is congratulated on scoring
Lee Smith is congratulated on scoring

Wakefield Wildcats will have to fill a six-figure hole in the club’s budget and find a new sponsor after scrap metal firm Eric France went out of business.

JKL (Wakefield) Ltd, which traded as Eric France Metal Recycling, ceased trading yesterday with the loss of 18 jobs and debts of £22m.

Liquidators said the company had “significant historic debts owed to HMRC”, thought to total £21m in unpaid VAT.

The Ossett-based firm was the Wildcats’ main shirt sponsor and also sponsored the East Stand at the club’s Rapid Solicitors Stadium and the back of the team’s shirts.

Today, the club issued a statement saying: “Following a creditors meeting with administrators KPMG yesterday, it appears highly unlikely that Eric France Metal Recycling will be able to fulfil their commitment of a significant six-figure sum as the club’s main sponsor.”

The statement said the areas of sponsorship now available were prestigious and would be an attractive proposition for companies.

The statement added: “The club is active in the market in its attempts to find a replacement sponsor and when such a time comes that this is achieved, supporters will be consulted about the range of replica merchandise that carries the Eric France brand.”

Yesterday, liquidators KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers were appointed at a creditors meeting.

The liquidators said in a statement: “It is understood that, according to the directors’ statement of affairs, £21m of the company’s total debts of £22m relate to unpaid VAT.”

Joint liquidator David Standish said: “The company has ceased trading and unfortunately all 18 employees have been made redundant. The insolvency is due to significant historic debts owed to HMRC.

“I would now welcome hearing from anybody with information about the company and I can be contacted at KPMG, 1 The Embankment, Neville Street, Leeds, LS1 4DW.”