HOW VINCE McBEAN PAID HIMSELF £9,050 PER WEEK RUNNING CHARITY FOR HOMELESS YOUNGSTERS BEFORE IT COLLAPSED

The first instalment of the ‘Vince McBean files’, a new series looking at Clapton chief executive’s track record working in football and the charity sector.

Clapton FC chief executive Vince McBean paid himself a salary of £9,050 per WEEK in cash while he was director of a charity for the homeless in the early 2000s, an astonishing official report reveals.

The extraordinary sum, equivalent to £767,000 per year in today’s money, is revealed in the Charity Commission report, published in 2005, into Knights Millenium Foyer Limited (KMF) and Knights Institute of Sport (KIS).

The two charities, which collapsed in early 2004, were indelibly linked, with the same trustees and with Mr McBean as director of each.

KMF had been given over £2million of lottery money from the Millennium Commission in December 2000 to buy and refurbish a disused police training building, Ranulph Bacon House in Upper Norwood, Croydon, to provide temporary accommodation for vulnerable homeless people under the age of 25.

The Ranulph Bacon House development as it looked at the time

Meanwhile KIS was given over £200,000 to lease Orchards Playing Fields in nearby Anerley and provide sports training for young people who were socially or economically disadvantaged.

That £9,050 was paid weekly from KMF’s funds to a private company, Knights Corporation Ltd (KC), of which Mr McBean was the only director, beginning in December 2000. There was no record of the trustees ever agreeing to pay him such an astronomical amount, the report found.

In addition, the Charity Commission report found that in excess of £345,000 was taken out in cheques made payable to cash, from the bank accounts of KMF and KIS. Mr McBean’s was the only signature on those cheques, the report said.

The trustees claimed that the money was spent on decoration, food and clothing. The whole £345,000 had been paid out in cash, they said, but they had no documentation such as receipts or invoices.

As well as the £470,500 salary he took, Mr McBean also lived rent-free in a detached house at the site, again with no paperwork for the arrangement.

But did Mr McBean at least run the charities well in return?

Unfortunately not. The Charity Commission report notes that Mr McBean’s KC ‘was fulfilling only a fraction of its duties to KMF under the terms.’

KMF had run up debts approaching £2million when it collapsed, owed to Croydon Council, South London Family Housing Association and other unspecified creditors.

The report adds that many residents were over 25, some had lived in the ‘short-term’ accommodation for three years or more, and some “did not appear to be in charitable need.”

Ranulph Bacon House was taken over by the YMCA charity in 2004 and its director Bob Brown described the building’s condition as “ghastly”.

Mr Brown told the Croydon Advertiser: “The accommodation is not suited to its current use and has very poor facilities. As such it’s unfit for purpose.”

This was despite Mr McBean’s charity being given £2,017,712 to purchase and upgrade those very facilities just four years earlier.

The report adds that KIS failed to make use of the sports field and the council did not renew the licence.

Mr McBean resigned from KC in June 2003 and KMF in August 2003, before the charity’s collapse in early 2004, and therefore faced no action when the Charity Commission released their damning report.

Four of his long-time associates, however. including three who helped him take control of Clapton in 2000, were subsequently disqualified from acting as charity trustees.

Read the full Charity Commission report here. Please note that Mr McBean is not referred to by name, just called ‘chief executive’. However, the accounts prepared by YMCA do name him.

image

 

We approached Mr McBean via Clapton FC for comment but did not receive a reply. The club announced a policy not to speak to us in November last year.

If you are concerned about Mr McBean’s handling of London’s oldest senior football ground, the Old Spotted Dog, sign the petition calling on authorities to safeguard it here.

Advertisements

MCBEAN COMES CLEAN, BUT NEW REVELATIONS COME AT A COST FOR WORRIED FANS

It’s been another extraordinary week in the life of Clapton FC.

After Wednesday’s High Court date – read our report here –  chief executive Vincent McBean took everyone by surprise the next day by finally revealing his plans for the Old Spotted Dog ground.

Having previously insisted London’s oldest senior football ground was safe in his hands, and he would never try to sell it, Mr McBean now admits he wants to sell off a sizeable chunk of it to pay off £200,000-plus debts he has racked up to mystery creditors.

The area Mr McBean wants to sell is behind the current clubhouse, currently in use as a car breakers’ yard. This was bought by Newham Community Leisure Ltd, the charity set up to administer the Spotted Dog, prior to Mr McBean’s takeover.

The intention was to use it to expand the sports facilities at Clapton, with planning permission submitted in 1996 and resubmitted 1997 for a two-storey sports centre, including an indoor cricket school, with parking spaces.

However, the sports facility development idea wasn’t pursued by Mr McBean when he took over the club and the council formally closed the file in 2001. Since then the site has been rented out to various non-footballing businesses.

This prize asset could be easier to sell than the rest of the Old Spotted Dog should any proposed liquidation of the charity go through as it exists on a separate lease to the rest of the Spotted Dog.

However, supporters managed to make this sale harder last summer, firstly by winning a High Court injunction after Mr McBean filed for Members Voluntary Liquidation. and then securing an Asset of Community Value listing for the whole of the Old Spotted Dog, including the warehouse area.

It’s difficult to comprehend how the ground stands on the brink of insolvency, and being partially sold off, after a period of unprecedented growth for the club that plays there.

On 1st March 2017, NCL appointed a liquidator, Stewart Bennett of Buckhurst Hill. The documents showed the trust owing £203,478 in long-term loans, £2,001 in accountancy fees, with the cost of voluntary liquidation estimated at £19,095.

Mr McBean’s admission in his Tons Make Clear blog of mystery ‘individuals (who are) owed money’ has left supporters perplexed:

How has the Clapton chief executive managed to rack up so much debt at a time when the club was enjoying the highest gate receipts in the modern era?

E027187F-6E4E-4FEA-81F7-94D48FF14717

A sticker on a lamp post asking Mr McBean where the money has gone 

To be clear, this is not historic debt, from when the club was existing hand to mouth on small attendances. The vast majority has been racked up in recent seasons.

Between 2000 and 2011, Mr McBean managed to keep the club and ground afloat despite the relatively tiny amount coming in through spectator revenue, as his predecessors had done for decades. The December 2013 accounts lists just a five-figure amount owed to creditors.

The rise of the Friends of Clapton and the Clapton Ultras, and articles about Clapton supporters, featured in The Guardian, The Mirror and The Independent, among many other publications, helped make the Old Spotted Dog a football destination again.

The huge surge in numbers through the gate from double figures to the high hundreds in just a few years should have been a gift and a transformational opportunity.

Based on average attendances and ticket prices at Tons home matches during this period, the club is estimated to have collected between £30,000 and £50,000 per season in gate receipts alone.

Sizeable fees have also been claimed from ground-sharers, London Apsa, London Bari, and Hackney Wick during this period. The going rate to rent other senior football grounds in East London is between £7,000 and £12,000 per season.

The Spotted Dog’s earning potential goes way beyond football-related income, however.

According to Companies House, three separate motor-servicing businesses have rented the warehouse area from NCL: Vodafone pay the charity an annual subscription to host their phone mast within the ground: the clubhouse, available to hire, hosts regular events, religious services and late night parties.

The Spotted Dog has also featured in two television adverts in recent years, while the pitch was used as a landing pad for a private helicopter last week.

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 12.18.37

These are just some examples of the income generated at 212 Upton Lane, although the opaque nature of the NCL and Tons Members Club make it difficult to speculate how this income is used to offset against the ground’s general running costs.

So after a few years of Clapton playing in front of large crowds, with all these revenue streams, the unnamed creditors are now apparently owed over £200,000.

So could it be that Mr McBean spent the windfall of cash on ground improvements? In his blog post, he claimed the ground had required ‘major refurbishment’ since his arrival.

However, the vast majority of the Old Spotted Dog’s modernisation came before his tenure, which began in 2000.

Following the release of the Taylor Report, the-then Clapton administration were forced to demolish the two traditional wooden stands in 1994. These were replaced by the 100-seater main stand and the now famous ‘Scaffold’ Stand, both of which are still in use.

The current pitch-side fencing, still just about standing over two decades later, was also installed during this period of works.

So too was the clubhouse and the concrete laid for existing pathways and small terrace behind the goal, now rather overgrown.

The only significant infrastructure works completed at the Spotted Dog since 2000 appear to be the turnstiles, outdoor toilet block, a new gate and the extension to the Scaffold.

We also know that some ground works have been funded by donations and outside grants, such as £3,000 ‘Emergency Flood Relief’ funding received from Sport England to re-seed the pitch in 2014.

Totalling up these modest renovations it’s difficult to see how Mr McBean could have spent anywhere near close to £200,000 on ground improvements. In fact, looking online for prices, it’s hard to see how it could have cost more than £25,000 in total.

Having finally come clean on his plans to sell off part of the ground, supporters will be keen to see if the next ‘Tons Make Clear’ blog will reveal the identities of the mysterious creditors and what services they provided.

Meanwhile the court case over the liquidation rumbles on with all parties next due in the High Court in August.

A petition to return the Old Spotted Dog ground to the community can be signed here

OLD SPOTTED DOG GROUND LIQUIDATION IN THE HIGH COURT – LATEST SITUATION

Clapton FC chief executive Vince McBean’s attempt to take sole control of the Old Spotted Dog stadium lease was back before a judge in the Royal Courts of Justice today and there are some encouraging signs for fans who oppose to it.

The 20-minute hearing in court 10 of the Rolls Building was merely about how the case will progress. A timetable was agreed by all parties – Judge Sally Barber, Mr McBean’s solicitor, and the solicitor acting for some other members of the lease-holding charity, Newham Community Leisure Ltd, who say they do not approve of the liquidation.

However, in what could be a significant blow to Mr McBean, the liquidator ST Bennett & Co, who did not attend, is now believed to accept that the liquidation cannot be pushed through before the current court case is heard.

Until recently the liquidator is understood to have argued that a recent compulsory winding-up order – filed by struck-off solicitor Antoinette Olivia Taylor on behalf of Taylor Bridge Legal Services for an unspecified amount owed for legal services from 2008 – superseded the members’ voluntary liquidation process, so he should be allowed to disburse the assets and shut down the charity. There are significant reservations about the provenance of this debt which CFC News intends to investigate.

If you are confused by all this – so are we. However, basically it means the attempt to force through the liquidation through the back door, via a winding order from a third party, looks to have stalled. The current legal action will have to run its course.

Mr McBean hopes to liquidate the lease-holding charity and, it is understood, transfer its assets to a new company, Veercourt CIC, of which he is the only director. Other members of the charity are attempting to block this. Mr McBean disputes that the other charity members were ever members, despite him personally appointing some of them, and others preceding his own appointment. The judge declined to go into the rights and wrongs of those arguments, that will be for another day.

The next case management hearing is scheduled sometime in late August with a full trial perhaps as far away as 2019.

Incidentally, Mr McBean’s new company Veercourt CIC, is already in danger of being struck off, being two months overdue in filing a confirmation statement. This document is merely an annual statement of basic details, such as who a company’s shareholders are and how much capital the company owns. It is a criminal offence to not file this document every year. Mr McBean, believed to be the only director, now risks prosecution and Veercourt CIC being struck off.

In the meantime, campaigners have renewed their appeal for those who care about London’s oldest senior football ground to sign the Save the Old Spotted Dog petition, calling on Newham Council and the Charity Commission to act.

You can also join the mailing list and follow the Twitter account.

WHO WILL BE IN THE NEW EASTERN SENIOR LEAGUE? THE CLUBS IN THE RUNNING FOR THE ESL2 DIVISION FOR ESSEX

UPDATED: 18/05/18 More details of the new Step 6 league for Essex have been revealed…

Here’s what we understand so far…

We have referred to the league as Essex Senior League Division Two in the past, but it will actually be called the Eastern Senior League.

The new Step 6 league is a collaboration between two existing Step 5 leagues – the ESL and the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League, which covers North Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. In fact we believe the league is going to be mainly run by the existing Eastern Counties League officials.

The Eastern Senior League will feature a north and south division, with the geographical split being roughly at Ipswich. So what we have been called ESL Division 2 before is really the Eastern Senior League South.

Over the coming years, any Essex-based clubs currently playing in the Thurlow Nunn League set-up will more than likely end up in the Essex Senior League or Eastern Senior League South.

For instance if a Thurlow Nunn club like Felixstowe & Walton or FC Clacton were promoted to the Isthmian League but later relegated again, they would be placed in the ESL not go back to the Thurlow Nunn. Likewise if they are relegated from the Thurlow Nunn, they would be relegated to the Eastern Counties League South.

In short, the Essex Senior League and Eastern Senior League South are going to be covering all of Essex, with Thurlow Nunn and Eastern Senior League North more of a East Anglia only set-up.

There will be 16 clubs in the Eastern Senior League North and South, which means that midweek league games won’t be needed unless there are lots of postponements.

So who will be in the Eastern Senior League South?

We still don’t know the full make-up of the league yet, but there’s been no shortage of clubs applying, from as low as Step 12, six divisions below, and some clubs that aren’t in the pyramid.

We’re going to go through all the clubs we think could be in the new Step 6 league.

 

Clubs promoted from lower leagues

These clubs applied for promotion to the new ESL South from the Essex Olympian League, and are not included in the EOFL leagues for next season, therefore are assumed to have been successful…

Benfleet – Essex Olympian League Div 2 (Step 9)
May & Baker – Essex Olympian League Premier (Step 7
Newbury Forest – Essex Olympian League Div 1 (Step 8)
White Ensign – Essex Olympian League Premier (Step 7)

These clubs are also believed to have been approved…

Coggleshall United – Essex & Suffolk Border League Premier (Step 7)
Felixstowe & Walton Reserves – Thurlow Nunn Reserve League (non-pyramid)
Harwich & Parkeston – Essex & Suffolk Border League (Step 7)

These club are believed to have been turned down…
Frenford – Essex Olympian League Premier (Step 7)
Laindon Orient – Southend Borough Combination (non-pyramid)
Rayleigh Town – Essex Olympian League Premier (Step 7)
Southend Sports – Essex Olympian League Div 4 (Step 11)

These club are believed to be possibles…
AEK London – Middlesex County League Div 1 (Step 8)
Brightlingsea Regent Reserves – Thurlow Nunn Reserve League (non-pyramid)
Fire United Christian – Middlesex County League Div 1 (Step 8)
Hashtag United–  YouTube club (non-pyramid)
Lopes Tavares London – Essex Alliance League Premier (Step 12)
Sporting Hackney – Middlesex County League Premier (Step 7)
Wormley Rovers – Herts Senior County League Premier (Step 7)

Most of the clubs should be self-explanatory but here’s a bit more information about the clubs without a place name in their title: AEK London are a club set up by Greek refugees from Turkey who play in Edmonton; Fire United Christian are a Brazilian church club who play at the Terence McMillan in Plaistow; Hashtag United are a team who play behind-closed-doors friendlies at New River Stadium in Haringey for a YouTube audience; Lopes Tavares London are a Brazilian club who play at West Ham Memorial Park in Plaistow.

P7200766a

 

There could be some interesting stadiums in the new league – Harwich & Parkeston’s is a beauty as you can see from the Flickr gallery from when Clapton visited for a friendly in 2013.

Meanwhile Benfleet play at Conference South side Canvey Island’s home, Braintree Town Reserves at the Conference South club’s stadium, Holland FC at FC Clacton’s home, Laindon Orient at Bostik North side Bowers & Pitsea’s home, and Newbury Forest at Redbridge FC’s Oakside Stadium.

Clubs relegated from the Essex Senior League

At the start of the 2017/8 season, it was announced ‘up to 4 clubs’ would be relegated from the Essex Senior League. For most of the season, however, it was assumed it would 3 at the most, with Eton Manor, ‘non-playing members’ at the moment, expected to be automatically relegated.

However, in early May after the end of the season, the Essex Senior League announced that the bottom four had been relegated, subject to appeals. They are all expected to be placed in the Eastern Senior League.

Hackney Wick
Burnham Ramblers
Wadham Lodge
Stansted

Clubs in Eastern Counties League in the North Essex area

At least some of these seem highly to be in the new Eastern Senior League South…

AFC Sudbury Reserves
Braintree Town Reserves
Cornard United
Holland FC
Halstead Town
Little Oakley
Wivenhoe Town

So we think these 16 could be the line-up

Benfleet
Braintree Town Reserves
Burnham Ramblers
Coggleshall United
Felixstowe & Walton Reserves
Hackney Wick
Halstead Town
Harwich & Parkeston
Holland FC

Little Oakley
May & Baker

Newbury Forest
Stansted
Wadham Lodge
White Ensign
Wivenhoe Town

This would cover a large footprint from Little Oakley to the north, down to Benfleet at Canvey Island to the south. Journeys would be up to 120 mile round trips.

We’ll know the real line-up in the next few weeks.

CAMPAIGN TO SAVE THE OLD SPOTTED DOG LAUNCHES WITH PUBLIC MEETING AND PETITION

People packed into Durning Hall in Forest Gate for the launch of the campaign

Over one hundred local residents and football fans gathered in Forest Gate on Wednesday for the launch of the Save the Old Spotted Dog campaign.

Fears have been growing for the future of London’s oldest senior football ground as Clapton’s chief executive Vince McBean attempts to seize personal control of it by liquidating the charity which holds the lease.

However, rather than just watch it happen, all Clapton supporter groups joined forces for a meeting at Durning Hall to plan a course of action.

Representatives of Dulwich Hamlet gave an update and valuable advice on their own struggles keeping their historic stadium out of the clutches of property developers.

There were also fans of Leyton Orient, West Ham United and Waltham Forest offering support and solidarity during the 90-minute meeting.

Forest Gate Labour councillor Mas Patel addressed Durning Hall and both Labour MP Lyn Brown and Labour mayoral candidate Rokhsana Fiaz offered their support and apologies for not being able to make it. Local Lib Dems and Greens were also present.

 

Mr McBean sent a representative to observe proceedings, who insisted that he was neutral, though it has actually emerged that he was the signatory to the attempted liquidation itself.

Regardless, it was a public meeting, and it ended with renewed belief that the Old Spotted Dog could be an invaluable resource and needs to be saved and reclaimed for the community.

The organisers said: “Thanks to everyone who came to the public meeting on Wednesday night to launch our campaign to save the OSD – the turnout was fantastic and the mood was overwhelmingly positive, which has really driven home how important it is that we save the Dog, not just for Clapton fans but for the wider community as well.”

After the meeting, a petition was launched to put pressure on Newham Council and the Charity Commission to act. Read the full petition and sign it here.

You can sign up to the mailing list for more information on the campaign and to get involved.

A Twitter account was also launched: @savetheosd

FOUR ESSEX SENIOR LEAGUE CLUBS RECORD HIGHEST ATTENDANCE EVER AS TONS COME TO OWN – ANALYSING FIGURES DURING CLAPTON FANS’ BOYCOTT

An empty Scaffold stand as Clapton take on local rivals Ilford during the fans’ boycott – a game that has attracted crowds over 750 in recent years

Anyone who has caught a glimpse of Clapton’s paltry home crowds this season due to the fans’ boycott might be wondering how the fanbase is holding up.

Quick reminder: the boycott was called by fans’ group Real Clapton, and backed by Clapton Ultras, at the start of the season chiefly due to the club chief executive attempting to liquidate the charity running the Old Spotted Dog, putting our 130-year-old home in peril.

Seven gruelling months later, the case still hasn’t been resolved, and therefore the boycott still stands.

But is the boycott holding firm or are attendances creeping up? Once people get out of the habit of going to home games, have they just drifted away from the club completely? We took a look at the stats.

Home games

At Old Spotted Dog games this season, boycotted by the Clapton Ultras and other fan groups, the average officially declared attendance is 45.

That figure almost entirely consists of away fans, officials, players’ friends and relatives as the Scaffold stand lies empty and forlorn week after week.

Even this low figure of 45 often appears exaggerated. Head counts of people inside the Old Spotted Dog is routinely much lower than the total declared by the club. (Clapton officials insist there is an automated counting device attached to the turnstiles and their figures are correct, despite head counts).

What’s more, analysing the stats week by week, there is no upward creep during the season. In fact one of the last home games, against fellow Old Spotted Dog tenants Hackney Wick, attracted just 18 people. The reverse fixture, not boycotted by Tons fans, saw 785 people turn up.

The average attendance at unboycotted games last season was 383, In other words, the boycott has led to an 88% drop in attendances – even if you take this seasons’s fishy figures as accurate.

Such a powerful fan protest is unprecedented in the British game. 25% of Liverpool’s crowd walked out last season in the 77th minute over prices, something heralded as perhaps the most impressive fans’ protest in recent years. For Clapton fans to sustain a near total boycott for nearly a full season is astonishing.

From boasting the biggest crowds in the ESL last season – nearly five times higher than the next highest club – Clapton are now in 10th spot.

Away games

It’s clear from the above figures that home attendances have shrunk by phenomenal levels, but how about away games? Have fans just stopped going to Clapton games completely, including away games?

The list of away attendances makes impressive reading…

  • Hackney Wick 785 – season best / best in history
  • Tower Hamlets 468 – season best / best in history
  • Basildon United 281 – season best
  • Barkingside 273 – season best
  • Wadham Lodge 248 – season best / best in history
  • FC Clacton (cup) 208 – season best
  • Waltham Forest 208 – season best
  • London Lions (cup) 197 – season best / best in history
  • Sporting Bengal 180 – season best
  • Redbridge 160 – season best
  • Enfield 146 – season best
  • Takeley (league) 145 – season best
  • Woodford Town (league) 133 – season best
  • Wadham Lodge (cup) 133 – season best (beaten by league game later)
  • Stansted 122 – season best
  • Takeley (cup) 114 – season best
  • Ilford 103 – season best
  • Hullbridge Sports 86 – season best
  • Woodford Town (cup) 73 – season best (beaten by league game later)
  • West Essex 70
  • FC Romania 68 – season best
  • Burnham Ramblers 65 – season best
  • Sawbridgeworth Town 38

That makes the average at Clapton away games a fairly substantial 187, though that fluctuates depending on whether it’s Saturday or midweek, whether it’s a London game or a far-flung area of Essex, and the accessibility of the ground by public transport.

It should be noted that we’ve not had a lot of Saturday away league games this season, which traditionally attract larger crowds than midweek matches.

The average attendance at Essex Senior League games not involving Clapton is 58. So it’s clear the Tons’ presence in the league is boosting attendances massively and giving clubs a much-needed payday.

Indeed several clubs will have enjoyed more than a third of their season’s total attendance in 1 game against Clapton than in their other 19 home games in the season.

There have also been three games where fans were banned, ostensibly over a fear of fines over historic use of ‘pyro’, despite fans’ assurances that none would be used.

Those games saw the following attendances…

  • Southend Manor 41, 45
  • Met Police 28 – season worst

An average of 35.

All three games have also featured large numbers of stewards employed to keep supporters out.

At a time when non-league clubs are desperate for funding, it’s crazy to see two spending good money keeping fans away, based on false or outdated information.

SAVE THE OLD SPOTTED DOG CAMPAIGN LAUNCH PUBLIC MEETING

 

clapton

The Save The Old Spotted Dog Stadium campaign is launching

Clapton supporters are hosting an urgent public meeting to try to save London’s oldest senior football ground, the Old Spotted Dog.

Here’s the crisis in a nutshell – the current leaseholder of the OSD is a charity, but club chief exec Vince McBean is attempting to liquidate this and transfer the charity’s assets to a company owned and operated solely by himself.

This is happening under the noses of the Charity Commission, who were due to publish an investigation, and despite a High Court injunction intended to prevent the liquidation. Clapton fans fear what Mr McBean will do with OSD once he has it under his control given his track record so far.

Further details on the emergency are outlined in this Morning Star article we wrote last week.

The public meeting has been called by all Clapton fans groups and will take place at Durning Hall, near to Forest Gate station, at 7pm on Wednesday 11 April. 

Organisers said: “This isn’t just a meeting for Clapton fans but everyone who wants to save the ground for future use for the community.

“It ought to be an invaluable community resource. And yet it is at risk of being lost to the community for generations.

“We must Save the Dog and ensure it is reclaimed by and run for its community.

“Come to our campaign launch meeting to hear why this matters now and work out what we can do about it.

“It would be a fantastic show of community strength and togetherness to pack out Durning Hall on Wednesday.”

The Facebook event page for the public meeting is here.