It’s been a rough 2017 so far for Clapton Football Club off the pitch.
Reports of gross mismanagement from club hierarchy have overshadowed the Tons’ best league finish in nearly three decades and dogged the team’s early-season preparations.
With the players and coaching staff doing their best to keep things ticking over on the pitch, supporter calls for clarity and accountability continue to go unanswered over what many regard as a crisis at 212 Upton Lane.
Clapton Chief Executive, Vince McBean, has yet to publicly comment over his attempt to liquidate the charitable trust* that administers The Old Spotted Dog ground.
The historic site, home to Clapton for over 129 years, is now registered with ST Bennett & Co, insolvency practitioners based in Buckhurst Hill.
However, Mr McBean has continued to trade from the venue he is now legally estranged from, starting the new season with the blessing from the Essex Senior League and apparent tacit approval of the FA.
This legal contradiction has left supporters and some local residents deeply concerned about what is really happening down at the historic football ground.
With what information is available in the public domain, we’ve put together a timeline to try to help explain events leading up to Clapton’s famous home being placed into liquidation, and what has happened since at the beleaguered Old Dog.
22 Dec 2016 – Trustees of Newham Community Leisure Ltd*, including Vincent McBean, directed to attend offices of the Charity Commission for interview. No trustees in attendance. Meeting rearranged for 19 Jan 2017.
19 Jan 2017 – Rescheduled meeting with the Charity Commission & Newham Community Leisure trustees again postponed due to non-availability of trustees. New date for interviews set for 2nd March 2017.
26 Jan 2017 – A new company, Veercourt CIC London, is incorporated at ‘Clapton Football Ground’, listing its Industry as ‘Operation of Sports Ground’. Veercourt’s only director is Vincent McBean.
1 Mar 2017 – Newham Community Leisure Ltd enters Members Voluntary Liquidation, appointing ST Bennett & Co as liquidator.
2 Mar 2017 – Charity Commission interview, that had been postponed twice due to non-attendance of trustees, cancelled due to the insolvency entered the day before.
10 Apr 2017 – Injunction obtained at High Court by a trustee of Newham Community Leisure Ltd and Clapton FC life member, placing a stay on liquidation.
15 Apr 2017 – Essex Senior League Secretary Michelle Dorling writes a letter to the liquidator outlining the ‘continued harrassment’ Mr McBean is said to have endured and the league’s ‘integral’ role in attempting to help ‘defuse allegations’ made against him.
24 May 2017 – The Old Spotted Dog is awarded Asset of Community Value status by Newham Council following a supporter-led campaign.
22 Jun 2017 – Clapton FC given the ESL AGM as deadline to provide evidence it has the right to play home fixtures at the Old Spotted Dog. Mr McBean provides a document dated 19th November 2016 (prior to liquidation) as proof. This was accepted by the ESL.
19 Jul 2017 – Mr McBean is a respondent in a hearing at the High Court regarding the liquidation attempt. The judge directs the Charity Commission should be included in proceedings.
12 Aug 2017 – Clapton host their first home fixture on the 2017/18 Essex Senior League season.
*Newham Community Leisure Ltd is a registered charity, incorporated in February 1992. Previously named the ‘Clapton Trust Limited’ it was set up to independently administer The Old Spotted Dog ground. Vincent McBean became chairman of NCL in January 2000, shortly after taking over at Clapton Football Club.