FOUR popular Liverpool bars were ordered to stop selling alcohol after the company which owns them went bust.

Police visited the trendy nightspots ? Babycream, Raven and Circo at Albert Dock, along with Korova in Fleet Street ? on Thursday.

They were told to shut after owner Docklands Bars Ltd was plunged into administration last month.

Their licences were not transferred within the required seven-day period, meaning they were trading illegally.

The order came as a huge blow for all four bars, because it clashed with Aintree?s Ladies Day and Grand National weekend.

The premises can still technically open, but will be unable to sell alcohol and provide entertainment.

They have submitted new licence applications to Liverpool council, but they will not be effective for at least 28 days.

It means the popular nightspots will be closed over Easter and face losing thousands of pounds in revenue.

Docklands Bars Ltd, owned by director Jon Ritchie, is applying for new licences, but representations from residents may be heard again and a council licensing hearing scheduled.

A sign posted on the front of Circo said: ?We will be closed this evening due to an unexpected emergency.

?We will be closed for emergency maintenance all evening and hope to be open today as usual.?

At Korova yesterday, the bar?s shutters were pulled down, with a notice which read: ?Due to a drainage problem, we are closed.

?We are working hard to rectify this problem and will open soon.?

Racegoers arriving back into Liverpool from Ladies Day at Aintree expressed their disappointment.

Sheila Booth, of Hunts Cross, said: ?Many of the girls come to Albert Dock after the races, and it is a real shame they are closed.?

Technically, the bars and restaurants can open to serve food and soft drinks, but the sale of alcohol is prohibited.

It has been suggested one of the owners will soon apply to a court to come out of receivership.

Sergeant Paul Douglas, of Merseyside police, said: ?These premises were issued with closure notices because their licences have lapsed.?

Last year, KVRP, owned by Rob Gutmann and formerly known as Korova Corporation, which owned Korova and Babycream, went into administration.

It had a knock-on effect to the company?s relatively new bars in Woolton village, which closed down.

A spokesman for Liverpool council said: ?Unfortunately, when Docklands Bars Ltd went into administration, all the licences on Circo, Raven, Babycream and Korova lapsed.

?This means they need to make a new licensing application.

?We are doing everything we can to help these businesses in what is a crucial period for them, but we understand the police cannot allow them to open without the required licence.?

Licensing Legal, representing Docklands, declined to comment yesterday.