The season may have taken a three-month break, but the fight to save London’s oldest senior football ground has continued over the summer.
Last month, Save the Old Spotted Dog protesters turned up outside the Charity Commission’s headquarters to deliver a 1.750-signature petition calling upon them to release their report.
The Charity Commission first investigated the charity that runs Clapton’s home in 2002 and concluded that “little or no charitable activity was undertaken at the Old Spotted Dog Ground”.
As the news report in trade journal Civic Society states, concerns were reported again in April 2013. Over five years later, the Charity Commission has yet to deliver its report.
However, the Charity Commission did confirm to Civil Society it has opened a statutory inquiry – its more serious kind of investigation.
A spokeswoman told them: “The Commission has an ongoing statutory inquiry looking into the governance and financial management of the charity, Newham Community Leisure Trust.
“We have not yet drafted a report, however it is our intention to publish a report setting out our findings and conclusions on completion of the inquiry.
“We recognise the interest that the local community and supporters of the football club have in this matter, and are fully aware of their concerns.”
Then in July, the Save the Old Spotted Dog campaign held a stall at Forest Gate Festival to find out what a proper. community-run football ground could be used for.
One of the dozens of Forest Gate Festival visitors to drop by was Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, who particularly liked the idea for outdoor cinema in the summer.
Other ideas suggested by Forest Gate residents included outdoor yoga, keep fit for the elderly and football games for local schools and clubs.
A Save the OSD spokesman said:”We are grateful for the enthusiastic support from the Mayor and for so many great ideas from local people at our consultation – from greater access to the Old Spotted Dog Ground’s club house to community events and healthy living activities.
“We believe this valuable resource will have a more sustainable future if it is genuinely open to Newham residents and run for the benefit of the local area.”
“Keep the ideas coming for a genuinely accessible community venue, to savetheOSD@gmail.com”
In other news, Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz has officially responded to the petition, and pledged she is happy to meet with campaigners.
She said: “The Council’s ‘Local Plan: Detailed Sites and Policies Development Plan Document’ identifies the Old Spotted Dog football ground as protected green infrastructure, and our current planning policy seeks to improve the quality and accessibility of existing open spaces.
“I would be happy to arrange a meeting with the campaign to look into this case and discuss further”.
In the meantime, the Old Spotted Dog has been in the hands of a liquidator for over a year while a High Court case rumbles on over whether the charity can be wound up.
The next stage in the legal tussle will be another case management hearing at the High Court, currently slated for August 17th, with a full trial perhaps as far away as early 2019.
Clapton fans, life members and former committee members announced plans to field a team in the Middlesex League next season under the name Clapton Community Football Club, and run entirely by members.
CCFC will be playing home games at Wadham Lodge in Walthamstow although it has pledged to bring “members-run community football back to E7 as soon as possible.”