ACC is poised to take legal action to liquidate the Wellington Phoenix football club, saying it is owed more than $260,000 in unpaid player levies.
The club, owned by Terry Serepisos, had repeatedly "promised" to pay the levies and had failed to honour agreed payment plans, the Accident Compensation Corporation confirmed to The Dominion Post.
ACC plans to go to court today to liquidate Century City Football, whose sole director is Mr Serepisos.
He said last night that he was "shocked" by the legal threat. The matter would not go to court because "we have made arrangements to pay" today, he said.
ACC acting chief executive Keith McLea confirmed the legal action earlier yesterday. "Century City Football owes more than $260,000 in unpaid levies to ACC, some of it dating back several years.
"They have promised to pay many times but not done so. We have even agreed payment plans with them but these have not been honoured.
"Liquidation is the final option and is a step we have not taken lightly. We fully appreciate the potential impact on the Wellington Phoenix football team.
"But in the end it's simply not fair that other business levy payers are forced to continue subsidising Century City Football, since injured staff members of Century City Football are still helped by ACC whether or not their employer has paid its levies."
Mr Serepisos said he and his lawyer had agreed on a plan with ACC on Friday to pay the levies and "they have not even advised me of this [the move to liquidate]."
The amount of levies was "in dispute", he said, and he would fight any legal action.
Mr Serepisos called The Dominion Post back to say he had spoken to ACC's lawyer, who had assured him there was a misunderstanding. Mr Serepisos did not think an application would be lodged in the High Court to liquidate Century City Football.
"He [Dr McLea] is jumping the gun ... he's got his facts wrong."
In a subsequent interview Mr Serepisos said: "The left hand [at ACC] does not know what the right hand is doing. I know it is not going to court."
He said the reason the levies dispute had "dragged on" for so many years was because the Phoenix players were insured in Australia and ACC was also charging levies for them in New Zealand. "It's a double-up."
Dr McLea's statement said ACC would not comment further from today because the matter would be before the courts. He said ACC had "been more than reasonable over an extended period with Century City Football".
"We also need to be consistent with how we would treat any other business so we simply cannot write off this debt."
Mr Serepisos has previously said the Phoenix lost $1 million last year, but he was confident of at least breaking even this year.
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