SOUTHEND United have been given more time to clear a tax debt.

A judge considered the Shrimpers' case at a hearing in a specialist court in London on Wednesday after HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) made a winding up application.

Judge Mark Mullen, who oversees hearings in the Insolvency and Companies Court, made no ruling but said the case would be reconsidered on March 1.

Another judge had considered the case at a hearing in November.

No detail of the full amount owed emerged at Wednesday’s hearing but barrister Oberon Kwok, who represented HMRC, said the debt was “large”.

Barrister Hilary Stonefrost, who represented Southend, told the judge that there was a “real prospect” of money coming in.

She told the judge that the debt was “Covid-related”, because games had been suspended during the pandemic, and said the club was involved in a development project, which was very important to the “local community”.

Judge Mullen accepted that the club was a “valuable asset” but said the debt had to be paid.

Southend West Conservative MP Anna Firth was at the hearing and said outside court: “This is good news. This club is so important to the community.”