Bust firms behind cancelled Kettering gigs owe millions of pounds to creditors

New documents have revealed the financial woes of the Coventry firms

By Sam Wildman
Thursday, 19th May 2022, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 19th May 2022, 9:58 am

Two firms involved in a series of cancelled gigs including some in Kettering owe millions of pounds to creditors – but they have no cash to pay their debts, according to liquidators handling the collapse.

M&B Promotions and ticket sellers Simple Ticketing Ltd, which traded as Easy Ticketing, officially went into liquidation last month having ceased operations in February.

They had been due to put on comedy and music events around the country, with a number lined up at Wicksteed Park in June including Craig David, McFly and a stand-up bonanza.

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The two bust firms owe millions of pounds to creditors.

But the Coventry firms left thousands of ticket-holders furious when they suddenly cancelled the gigs and shut up shop. Wicksteed Park was booked as a venue and was not responsible for how the cancellation of the gigs was handled. M&B Promotions said it was no longer viable to continue trading and told those affected that they would have to go through Paypal or their credit card for a refund.

This newspaper can now reveal the two bust firms have creditors who combined are owed more than £9m – but because they both have nil assets it is unlikely anybody will recover their money.

Liquidator Phil Ballard, from Lichfield-based LBK Insolvency Solutions, told this newspaper: "If anyone has lost money as a result of the collapse of Simple Ticketing Ltd and is being refused a refund by either PayPal or their credit card companies, they should email [email protected] and we will provide details on how to lodge a claim in the liquidation as an unsecured creditor.

“Regrettably, at this time it looks unlikely that there will be funds available to make a distribution to creditors.”

It has also been revealed that both companies took out the maximum Government-backed Covid bounce back loan of £50,000.

Documents submitted to Companies House as part of the liquidation process show event promoters M&B Promotions owed a total of £5,635,696 to 21 creditors.

Their biggest creditor is Simple Ticketing Ltd (£3,423,273), who passed funds from ticket sales on to them to book venues and artists and put down deposits. Mr Ballard said terms of those deposits are typically non-refundable but that he would look at them to see if any funds could be recouped for creditors.

Simple Ticketing in turn owe the same amount to PayPal, who had promised to give refunds to those who had lost out after initially telling people their refund attempts were ‘out of time’.

Wicksteed Park, who said they were blanked by the promoters when they tried to find out what was happening before the gigs were cancelled, did not receive any money from M&B Promotions and are not listed as a creditor.

Some other venues are listed as creditors including the Lincolnshire Showground (£11,700) and Plymouth Guildhall (£2,888).

Talent agencies are also owed thousands of pounds. They include United Talent Agency, who represent Craig David (£220,500), Creative Artists Agency (£102,000), Loco Talent (£116,400), Paradigm Talent (£60,000) and LPO Talent (£27,000).

Also among M&B Promotions’ creditors are payment service providers Stripe, based in San Francisco, for £1,145,233.

Former director Melissa Austin, who quit in 2021, is listed as a creditor for £13,200.

Simple Ticketing Ltd also lists director Pamela Murray as a creditor for £13,200 for a directors loan account.

Kettering accountant Kate Brown, who managed to get a refund for £297 after buying tickets to a gig at Wicksteed Park, said she thought it was unusual to see no assets in the bank at all.

She said: "Even if it was a couple of grand you would expect to see a bit of money in the bank account.

"You'd expect there to be some sort of fixed asset, even if it was a company car or a nominal amount that might only give back 0.5p in the pound.”

But Mr Ballard said that, given the nature of the business, it was not uncommon for there to be no tangible assets.

He said: “Both bank accounts are understood to have a £nil balance. It is the duty of a liquidator to review the financial affairs of a company that has entered liquidation, as well as the conduct of its directors.

"If we unearth any assets or evidence of wrongdoing as part of this process, we will of course look to pursue these for the benefit of creditors.

"The companies did receive Government-backed bounce back loans. How these funds have been used will form part of our ongoing investigations.”

There had been huge excitement when the Wicksteed Park gigs were first announced in 2020, with extra tickets being released for some such was the demand.

The huge comedy event was then put back by a year because of Covid insurance reasons, with the postponement of three music concerts following weeks later.

This newspaper later revealed that many top comedians advertised as performing in Kettering were unavailable for the rescheduled date, including hometown hero James Acaster. Ticket holders had not been informed of the changes.

Many ticket holders to events at Wicksteed Park have since been able to get a refund, although some are still attempting to get their money back through their credit card providers.