The chairman of Southend United may have to wait until 2023 to stand trial after being charged with failing to pay more than £5million in tax following two land deals, a court heard.

Ronald Martin, 68, and former chief executive Geoffrey King, 75, are accused of failing to pay £4,485,000 in Value Added Tax over the sale of land in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

The pair are also accused of failing to pay £921,260 of VAT in relation to the sale of land in Thundersley, Essex, to the same firm, Redrow Homes PLC.

Martin, chairman of Southend Utd since 2000, was dressed smartly in a navy blue suit with a patterned tie and King wore a beige jacket and held a walking stick.

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Both men sat in the public gallery rather than the dock during the plea and trial preparation hearing at Southwark Crown Court.

King, of Ponds Road, Chelmsford, Essex, and Martin, of Benfleet Road, Benfleet, Essex, are both charged with two counts of cheating the public revenue.

No pleas were taken today and they were released on unconditional bail ahead of a further hearing on May 30 next year.

However, their preliminary trial date was set for January 3, 2023 and is estimated to last between two and a half and four weeks.