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Guildhall sold for £1 put into administration

25 June 2019

PRESTON’S GUILD Hall has closed and its operating company has been placed into administration.

The venue, which opened in 1973 and hosted early shows by Led Zeppelin and David Bowie, comprised the Grand Hall (cap. 2,500) and Charter Theatre (720). 

The complex was sold by Preston Council to local businessman Simon Rigby for £1 in October 2014, with Rigby promising to renovate the building and rebuild its business.

Blackpool-based Rigby, whose Rigby Organisation oversees an array of businesses, says his venue operating arm Preston Guild Hall Ltd (PGHL) had appointed administrators Beverley Budsworth of The Business Debt Advisor to “maximise the return to the company’s secured and unsecured creditors”. It is not yet know the extent of the company’s debts.

“The administration strategy will be to agree terms with a chosen operator who will take over the running of Preston Guild Hall,” he says. 

He claims the venue was closed after discussions for VMS Live to manage the venue failed.

Prior to the closure, PGHL is understood to have been pursued for unpaid bills totalling more than £100,000 from local companies and promoters who staged shows at the venues, but not received ticket revenue. Some claims go back six months.

Theatrical producer Bill Kenwright Ltd (BKL) says the company served 
a Statuary Demand on PGHL, chasing £69,910 revenue due from a production of the musical Blood Brothers at the venue last September.

“BKL also intends to scrutinise the conduct of PGHL management in this and to take any appropriate additional action in order to help protect producers and the theatre-going public against venue mismanagement,” says BKL executive director 
Steve Potts.

PGHL is also said to owe Ellis Live £9,600 for a series of George Michael tribute shows.

SJM Concerts and Live Nation Entertainment are among several promoters to have used the venues, and Rigby’s team had partnered with VMS Live to bring in bookings such as Busted.

Rigby says ticket refunds will be given for shows that had to be cancelled, such as concerts by Honeyblood, The Doors Alive and UB40.

Twenty full-time staff are understood to have been laid off by PGHL. 

Preston City Council leader Matthew Brown said he was extremely disappointed that the venues had been placed in to administration.

“Preston City Council transferred Preston Guild Hall to Simon Rigby in good faith while facing the most significant budget cuts in living memory,” says Brown. 

Rigby could not be contacted as LIVE UK went to print and VMS Live declined to comment. 

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