A petition started by Vince McBean’s Clapton to try to get back into the Old Spotted Dog was today pulled by hosts 38 Degrees.
A short statement is now displayed instead, saying that it had been ‘disabled due to inappropriate content”.
The strongly worded petition, started under the name Clapton Football Club, targeted landowners Heineken and blamed the Charity Commission for causing the gates to be locked.
However, Heineken gave a completely different reason, telling charity news website Civil Society it had not been able to contact the leaseholders Newham Community Leisure, operated by Mr McBean, for two years.
Meanwhile a Charity Commission spokesperson added: “We have seen the recent petition. We refute the suggestion that the repossession is the responsibility of the Commission.”
38 Degrees have confirmed to us the petition could be resurrected if the petition starter removes some of the allegations it contained.
An Essex Senior League tweet – now deleted – complained that the petition had been taken down due to ‘underhand and unsportsmanlike’ behaviour from a complainant.
Mr McBean or Clapton FC have yet to make any comment on its situation, aside from the now rejected petition.
The club and fellow ground-sharers Hackney Wick are due to play home games at alternative venues now the gates are locked.
The petition had been promoted many times by the ESL to all its members via email and social media.
The ESL today issued a statement to the Newham Recorder, saying: “The club has maintained contact with the League since Heineken UK sought to re-possess the ground from the leaseholders, Newham Community Leisure Limited.
“It is also finding alternative venues for its home fixtures, with a number of these being played at Aveley Football Club.
“It is understood Heineken UK have been accepting proposals from interested parties to take on the lease and are aware the Clapton FC have and understand Clapton Community FC may have also put forward proposals.”
A statement from Clapton Community FC, the members-owned club formed in response to Mr McBean’s mistreatment of Clapton FC and the Old Spotted Dog, said: “We can confirm we are in contact with the freeholder. We will comment further after consulting with our members.”
The Save the Old Spotted Dog group has been campaigning to return London’s oldest senior football ground to the people of Newham.
A Save the Old Spotted Dog statement today said: “Clapton FC’s chief exec liquidated the charity that ran the Old Spotted Dog in 2017, the freeholder says they have been unable to make contact since, and the Charity Commission has refuted allegations in his club’s petition.
“The move by the freeholder to take back control of the Old Spotted Dog is the best thing to have happened to the ground in decades. The Old Spotted Dog is a community asset and we have high hopes it will be run as such in future.”
Security fencing now surrounds the Old Spotted Dog and a video camera has been erected on the edge of the penalty area (see second photo above).