SOUTHEND United faces its ninth winding up order in three years after failing to pay a tax bill.

The winding up petition has been issued by HM Revenue and Customs, and is due to be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice, London, on Monday, August 19.

Just two months ago the club was placed under a transfer embargo because of another unpaid bill, stopping manager Phil Brown bringing in new players.

The bill for staff taxes and national insurance contributions was cleared three weeks before it got to court.

The transfer embargo was lifted but has now returned just a month later.

Jamie Forsyth, 31, who runs the Fanzine All at Sea, said: “We’ve lost count of how many winding up orders we’ve had now. It’s got to the point where we are used to it now. The system seems to be we get these winding up orders but Ron always seems to come up with the money in the end.

“Obviously it’s not good but we have known for years that financially it’s a struggle and we are just living every day as it happens. Not enough money comes in each month to pay everything, so Ron has to decide who is going to be given priority that month. It’s the way a lot of football clubs have to run now unfortunately.

“It’s not good timing. We need to be getting a good team of players together.”

The size of the latest winding up order is not known.

In the past Southend United chairman Ron Martin has said the string of winding up petitions is down to over-zealous behaviour from Revenue and Customs, but the planned move to the new stadium at Fossets Farm should put an end to their financial problems.

A spokesperson for HM Revenue and Customs said: “HMRC cannot comment on tax affairs of individuals or businesses, including football clubs.

“HMRC’s aim is not to wind up companies or make individuals bankrupt, but to collect, as efficiently as we can, the debts that are due.

“HMRC only initiates winding up or bankruptcy action where it believes this is the best course of action to protect the interests of the Exchequer in respect of a particular debt. We do not take such action likely.”

The club did not respond to requests for a comment.