FORMER Welsh Premier side Neath FC have been wound up in what has been described as a desperately sad day for football in the town.
They had been under threat for months, seeing off winding up moves brought by the taxman in March — only to come under attack from Barclays Bank.
Neath FC president Peter Hain said he hoped the soccer club would now emerge phoenix-like from the ashes.
"It's a very sad day," said the Neath MP. "For Neath FC to have scaled such heights and then come crashing down is a savage blow."
Neath FC came into being in 2005, when Welsh League clubs Skewen Athletic and Neath decided to merge. But latterly fans became increasingly worried about the club's future following the financial issues, legal proceedings and chairman Geraint Hawkes's import business going into administration. In October, the payment of players' wages was delayed by what the club referred to as "issues".
Last month, Neath were kicked out of the Welsh Premier League, meaning they could not compete in Europe next season after failing to gain either a domestic or Uefa licence.
The Eagles, who had former Swansea City star Lee Trundle on their books, saw applications for both licences rejected by the Football Association of Wales earlier that month.
Yesterday they were wound up in London's High Court, two weeks after escaping such action when Registrar Barber ruled that the paperwork in front of her was not satisfactory.
Yesterday, though, lawyers for the bank told her the papers were in order, and she granted a "usual compulsory order" winding the club up.
The court heard in March that Neath had paid its £65,000 debt to HM Revenue and Customs. However, the bank won an order for "substitution", allowing it to take over the winding-up petition in respect of its undisclosed debt.
The club's affairs will now be handed over to an Official Receiver.
His job will be to do his best to ensure debts are paid off by selling any assets available and then bringing business to a close.
Mr Hain said: "For the efforts of everyone involved with the club to go up in smoke is desperately sad.
"Let us hope that it can rise phoenix-like in the future."