by Paul McNamara

Gosport Borough’s bid for an unlikely promotion into the National League has been hit by financial problems.

In a statement on their official website, the club confirmed that players have not been paid for the past two weeks – and that an outstanding amount owed by Gosport to HMRC has seen a transfer embargo imposed on the Privett Park outfit.

One of the feel good stories on the Hampshire football scene in recent times, Gosport secured successive promotions to earn a place in the Conference South (now National League South) in 2013.

Alex Pike’s side have since established themselves in non-league football’s second tier, and in 2014 enjoyed a remarkable run to the FA Trophy final, where they were beaten by Cambridge United.

But despite that Wembley outing, and a bumper home FA Cup clash with League One Colchester United last season, Pike has been hampered in his efforts to continue Borough’s heady rise by the club’s off-field strife.

The official statement revealed that a payment plan has been set up - and is being fulfilled - for the money owed to the tax authorities.

Until that outstanding amount is settled, Pike will continue to be hamstrung by the same player trading constraints that he says have ‘severely handicapped’ him for the past six weeks.

Certainly, the team’s form has dipped. A 3-1 derby win at Havant & Waterlooville on February 9 gave Gosport a seven point buffer to sixth placed Truro City, outside the play-off spots.

After collecting just one point from their three subsequent outings, however, Borough’s advantage over the Cornish side has been cut to four points. Dartford, meanwhile, are only two points back in fifth, after the Kent team overturned a half-time deficit to win 3-1 at Privett Park on Tuesday night.

The website statement, published on Thursday, adds that the players have agreed to a wage repayment plan – while emphasising that the club considers their current financial predicament to be short-term in nature.

The statement’s key detail reads: “Gosport Borough Football Club accept they are currently under a player embargo for an outstanding balance owed to HMRC, a payment plan has been set up and is being fulfilled.

“It is also agreed that GBFC players are behind on their wages however this has been discussed with a representative from the players and again a repayment plan has been set up and the players were made aware of this last Tuesday.

“Monies owed to GBFC from a variety of sources is also being chased by staff. If this money had been paid to the club by the payable invoice date then the club would not be in this temporary financial struggle.

“It has also been unfortunate that we have only played two games on Saturdays since 26th December which has also had an adverse effect on cash flow.”

Pike, who is placing his faith in chairman Mark Hook to “get us out of this mess”, is now preparing his team for Saturday afternoon’s visit of fellow play-off hopefuls Oxford City.