Clapton’s ground share partners Hackney Wick have signalled their intent to move away from the Old Spotted Dog next season.
The club announced they are moving to the London Community Track Stadium, next to West Ham’s London Stadium, indicating it will be their home whatever league they are in next season.
The Wickers, who ‘merged’ with London Bari this season to move up to the Essex Senior League, are currently bottom of the table and heading for relegation to the new Step 6 League being set up for next season.
It is unclear who will be the second club to play at the athletics track, which was used as the marathon warm-up for the Olympics and has since been converted including a grass football pitch.
It is currently home to the Newham and Essex Beagles athletic club and, football wise on Saturdays. to Altis FC of the Amateur Football Combination.
However, CFC News understands that Sporting Hackney of the Middlesex League have also shown an interest in moving to the stadium.
It is not known if the ground meets current grading requirements for Step 5 or Step 6 football or if it needs work over the summer.
Sporting Hackney are one of two lower league clubs confirmed to have applied for promotion to the new Step 6 league for Essex, the other being Coggeshall United, a newly formed second team in the town, playing their first season in the Essex Border League.
It means little or nothing of Bari is left after the Hackney Wick merger, with name, management and players all gone and now vacating the Old Spotted Dog where they played since 2012.
So how will this move impact Clapton? At face value it will mean a loss of income of around £10,000 to £12,000 to the landlords, which we understand is the going rate for an ESL club groundshare agreement.
That’s where it gets confusing since the leaseholders Newham Leisure Trust. the charity which runs the Old Spotted Dog, is currently in the hands of a liquidator.
That came about because Clapton’s chief executive Vince McBean tried to put the charity (of which he was also an officer) in liquidation almost a year ago, a move blocked by fans group Real Clapton.
Confusing? Certainly. But even so, with few grounds available in East London after so many have been lost to property developers, it’s likely there will other clubs wanting to move in.
CFC News has heard whispers of at least two other clubs who would be interested in moving to the OSD.
Who they would pay rent to, or even if anyone at all will be able to play at the ground next season, will depend on what happens when the current liquidation case is finally heard in the High Court.
We contacted Clapton FC before publication to see if they wanted to comment.