The former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker has been declared bankrupt after a hearing in London. Photograph: Imago/Barcroft Media
Boris Becker has been declared bankrupt over a debt outstanding since October 2015. Lawyers for the three-times Wimbledon winner pleaded with a bankruptcy court registrar in London on Wednesday for “a last chance” to pay a long-standing debt.
However, registrar Christine Derrett, who recalled watching him play, said it was “with regret” she had concluded there was a lack of credible evidence that his “substantial” debt would be paid soon and she refused to adjourn the case for a further 28 days. She said of Becker: “One has the impression of a man with his head in the sand.”
The bankruptcy application was made by the private bankers Arbuthnot Latham & Co in connection with a judgment debt owed to them by Becker dating back to 2015.
Becker’s lawyers had argued there was sufficient evidence to show that he would be able to pay the debt soon through a refinancing arrangement, involving remortgaging a property in Majorca, which was expected to raise €6m.
His advocate told the registrar his instructions from Becker were that it was expected the deal would be approved by a Spanish bank in approximately one month. The advocate said: “I don’t want to play around in court. It is clearly in the interests [of Arbuthnot Latham] for there to be refinancing.”
When the registrar was told that Becker was a television commentator, she replied that she knew who he was, adding: “I remember watching him play on Centre Court, which probably shows my age.”
His advocate, John Briggs, told the registrar that someone in Becker’s position would not be prone to benefit from bankruptcy and it was likely to have an adverse effect on his “image”.
The judge said: “He should have thought about that a long time ago.” She added: “It is not often the case that a professional person has a judgment [debt] outstanding against them since October 2015. This is a historic debt.”
Briggs said: “He is not a sophisticated individual when it comes to finances. I am asking for a real last chance for Mr Becker to come good … It has just taken longer than anticipated.”
In a statement Becker said: “I was surprised and disappointed that Arbuthnot Latham chose to bring these proceedings against me. This order relates to one disputed loan which I was due to repay in full in one month’s time. It is disappointing that my request for today’s hearing to be postponed until this time was refused.
“My earnings are well publicised and it is clear that I have the means to repay this debt.The value of the asset in question far exceeds the debt owed to Arbuthnot Latham. I intend to make an application to have this order set aside immediately. In the meantime, I will concentrate on my work and in particular my presenting duties at Wimbledon for the BBC and other international outlets.”