VINCE MCBEAN BACK IN FOOTBALL PENDING APPEAL AGAINST TOTAL BAN

Vince McBean has been allowed back to work in football again while he appeals his total ban, the Essex Senior League tells us.

The Clapton FC chief executive was banned from all football activity by the FA, effective October 30th 2019, for repeatedly declining to answer questions about how he came to take over the club.

The suspension bans him from performing any function or even attending games.

However, we reported that he had been pictured at a game on November 26th 2019, collecting gate money and mingling with attendees.

Since then we’ve been contacted by many people to say he had been seen at other Clapton FC games, and also at the Essex Senior League’s club meeting on January 16th, 2020.

But the ESL tell us that was all above board, and he has been allowed back pending an appeal.

An ESL spokesperson told us: “You are correct, he has been attending football, at grounds and at the league meeting.

“He has appealed so until that is heard he is able to continue in his role at Clapton FC.

“We do not have a date for any appeal hearing, that is a matter for the FA and Mr McBean to sort.”

It’s unclear when the appeal was lodged, but it must have been after December 28th 2019, since an article on Mr McBean’s website on that date confirms that his ban is active.

That puts a question mark over his attendance at the game on November 26th, and any other other activity he carried out after his ban was imposed but before his appeal was lodged.

In case of any doubt, the metadata of our photo above shows it was taken at the club’s new home ground of Southchurch Arena in Southend, at a game.

If further witnesses were required as to his presence among a crowd of 36, five Twitter accounts were also providing minute by minute updates on the game, including the ESL’s own @essexsenior account.

VINCE MCBEAN AT GAME DESPITE FA BAN FROM ALL FOOTBALL

Vince McBean attended Clapton FC’s game against Saffron Walden Town on Wednesday night despite his ban from all football, we can reveal.

Our correspondent travelled to Southend Manor’s Southchurch Park Arena ground, the club’s new home, to see who was running the club in Mr McBean’s absence

However, they were shocked to find Mr McBean himself there mingling with attendees and sent us photos, including the one above.

Other spectators tell us that he collected the gate money during the game – no one was on the turnstile – and that he brought food for the players afterwards.

Mr McBean was banned from all footballing activity – a so-called sine die suspension – last month due to his failure to attend FA hearings.

The FA would like to question him over unspecified allegations relating to his conduct when first becoming involved with Clapton FC in 1999.

We have alerted the Essex Senior League – who had several representatives at the game, including one live tweeting goal updates – of a banned individual’s presence among the crowd of 36.

Mr McBean is also still listed as the main club contact on both the club and the ESL websites. There has been no mention from either club or league that he is now banned from football.

The game was delayed for eight minutes while the opposition players and fans erected the goal nets. It eventually finished in a narrow 1-0 win for the visitors.

CLAPTON FC APPOINT HEAD OF FOOTBALL OPERATIONS AND MANAGER

Crisis club Clapton FC have appointed a new Head of Football Operations and a new joint manager.

Former Walthamstow FC boss Qayum Shakoor, who is also Head of Under 23s at Crawley Town and has been dubbed ‘non-league’s Harry Redknapp’, is the new Head of Football Operations.

His colleague at Crawley, Julian Charles, is the new joint manager alongside Wilf Thomas, who is staying on after returning to the club in the summer.

Former Glen Kendall and his backroom staff quit to take the reins at Basildon United but lasted just one game there before being sacked.

Shakoor was in the dugout last Tuesday for the club’s 3-0 ‘home’ defeat vs Takeley, which was switched to the opponent’s ground.

Thomas is the only one of three joint managers appointed this summer, along with Kendall and Halil Hassan, still at the club. Four coaches have also since departed during this period.

Thomas is listed as manager/coach but it’s understood he’s not involved on matchdays, which will presumably fall to Shakoor and Charles..

The club are now based at Southend Manor for the rest of the season, 40 miles from East London, although no home games are scheduled until January.

Thomas, Shakoor, Charles and any other backroom staff who may come in, will therefore have 13 home games out of 17 to move Clapton FC clear of the relegation zone.

The club’s former chief executive Vince McBean has been banned from all football activity – including spectating and performing any admin duties.

It is unclear who is running the club now and therefore who appointed Shakoor.

Neither the club nor the league website have removed his name as the main contact or added any new names.

CLAPTON FC MOVE 40 MILES TO SOUTHEND

Clapton FC will play their home games at Southend Manor’s Southchurch Arena, it has been announced.

The club lost the lease on the Old Spotted Dog Ground in the summer due to non-payment of rent.

They had since played two home league games at Aveley’s Parkside and had wanted to groundshare there alongside Aveley, Grays Athletic and May & Bakers.

However, the footballing authorities put a stop to a long-term four-way groundshare, and the club then asked for permission to move to Southend instead.

The FA needed to give special dispensation for the move, given the 40 mile distance from its traditional East London home, and they have now given the green light.

Before the news broke, we contact the Essex Senior League, who confirmed: “The FA have been advised of the proposals under consideration for a couple of weeks; the FA and others have discounted some of those and there is currently a groundshare agreement proposal that has been submitted to the FA which is currently being reviewed involving Southend Manor FC.”

The two teams met last week, with Southend Manor triumphing 1-0 in front of a crowd 12.

Ironically in 2016/7, Manor banned Clapton fans from attending games there after discussions with then chief executive Vince McBean, citing perceived concern about possible use of pyro.

However, being in a public park that proved tricky to enforce and the games saw dozens of Clapton supporters watch anyway without incident (see pic above).

A lot has happened in the years since, with Clapton losing not only its ground but also its life members and fan groups due to concerns over Mr McBean’s mismanagement.

He has since been banned from all footballing activity.

 

JONNY FOWELL QUITS AFTER THREE SEASONS

After almost three full seasons as manager of Clapton FC, Jonny Fowell has announced he will step down at the end of the current campaign.

The news was broken in an interview with the Newham Recorder’s Jacob Ranson with Fowell pointedly saying he was looking for a club that can challenge for promotion.

That the Tons finished second in his first season, but Fowell feels now it’s no longer possible to aim for a similar finish, is rather telling.

Taking Clapton FC to the runners-up spot in the Essex Senior League in the 2016/7 season will undoubtedly be seen as the high point of Fowell’s reign.

The form was spectacular – 10 wins in 11 away matches, 21 wins in the last 26 overall – and the points per game would have probably been enough to win the ESL title outright in many other seasons.

The Tons fans lapped up the talents of Johnny Ashman, Jay Knight, Ryan Reed, Steven Sardinha, Nathan Cook, Dylan Ebengo, Lanre Vigo, Tayo Awoderu, Emmanuel Olajide, and Jerry Jairette.

The season ended in the sunshine at the Old Spotted Dog with Jerry lifting the runners-up shield in front of 684 jubilant fans after a 7-0 thrashing of Burnham Ramblers.

Fast forward two years, and Clapton’s home game vs Hoddesdon Town last Saturday was apparently witnessed by just 10 people, 6 of whom were away fans. It shows just how much the club has been hollowed out since.

For chief executive Vince McBean chose that point in history, spring 2017, to liquidate the charity that runs the Old Spotted Dog, claiming it owes him almost £200,000 that he’d loaned it for unspecified reasons.

That, of course, sparked all fan groups into calling for a boycott of all home games that continues to this day, while Mr McBean’s liquidation is still being contested through the High Court.

Fowell has remained loyal to Mr McBean during this period – and indeed in his Newham Recorder interview stressed that ‘Vince has been a great chairman”. (A slip of the tongue, surely, as Mr McBean insists he is just chief exec, not the owner or chairman).

It’s fair to say in contrast that Tons fans never warmed to Fowell, and vice versa, But privately he must wonder what might have been achieved if Mr McBean hadn’t driven the supporters away.

From the highs of that first season – where Fowell showed he could build a decent team with no budget, with close to 400 people on average watching them – it’s been a steady decline on and off the field since.

The club sits in 14th place and is looking to fill vacancies for a chairman, manager, groundsman,  kitman and matchday secretary. The youth teams and reserves are long gone.

And of course the supporters have re-established a members-owned Clapton side, competing in the Middlessex County League, which is going better than anyone dared to have dreamed.

Yet Mr McBean clings on, as even without any gate receipts on matchdays, there’s enough income from other sources to make it a tidy little earner.

Clapton FC has posted a statement on Twitter confirming the news, adding: “Clapton fc wishes to confirm that manager @jonnyfowell16 is leaving the the club at the end of the season.

“Clapton fc is grateful to @jonnyfowell16 for his contribution and efforts to stabilise the club and wish him all the best for the future – committee Clapton FC.”

A LUCRATIVE YEAR AT THE OLD SPOTTED DOG – BUT WHERE IS THE MONEY GOING?

It’s still a lucrative time at the Old Spotted Dog, even while the charity that holds the lease is in liquidation.

We estimate the ground has generated income of at least £40,000 since March 2017, when liquidator ST Bennett & Co took over.

That’s good news – as long as the money is finding its way back to the liquidator, as it legally should.

As a reminder, the Old Spotted Dog and Clapton Football Club are entirely separate bodies.

The Old Spotted Dog is owned freehold by a subsidiary of Heineken and leased to a charity, Newham Community Leisure, which is now in liquidation.

Meanwhile Clapton FC is one of two football clubs who are tenants of the Old Spotted Dog. Clapton FC is supposed to be a members club, though has been closed to new members for at least six years.

The situation gets complicated because Vince McBean is the Clapton FC chief executive and he and his associates were also trustees of Newham Community Leisure.

They placed it into voluntary liquidation two years ago claiming it owed nearly £200,000 to themselves. That liquidation is being challenged in the High Court, but a date for a hearing has still not been set two years on.

Mr McBean’s handling of the charity is also the subject of a Charity Commission investigation, which began five years ago but has still not concluded.

Liquidator ST Bennett of Buckhurst Hill is supposed to run the facility on behalf of Newham Community Leisure. It’s our understanding, however, that the liquidator has instead entered a service level agreement with Clapton FC and Mr McBean.

Essentially, Mr McBean runs the Old Spotted Dog as before – mows the pitch, maintains the ground, deals with admin etc – and in return his club doesn’t have to pay any rent.

Mr McBean no longer has large gate receipts from Clapton FC home games to draw upon.  All Clapton fan groups and bodies – including us – have maintained an impeccably observed boycott of home games since his liquidation

Please note the below income derived from the Old Spotted Dog is all COMMERCIAL use. We can find no evidence of any charitable use. Newham Community Leisure is supposed to be a charity.

Hackney Wick FC rent

Hackney Wick is a great community football club, and have rightly won awards and acclaim for their excellent outreach work, particularly in youth football and reaching out to prisoners and ex-offenders.

However, the Wickers – previously known as London Bari – have always kept quiet on their close relationship with Mr McBean. His behaviour seems very much at odds with Hackney Wick’s ethos.

The Wickers decline to say whether they pay their rent direct to Newham Community Leisure and now to the liquidator, or whether they hand it over to Mr McBean. It’s their right to keep quiet if they wish.

We just have to hope that the Wickers – who are doing so much admirable work – are doing the right thing here and ensuring this money goes to the liquidator, and insisting on correct paperwork and procedures.

The going rate for a Step 5 ground for a season is somewhere between £8,000 to £12,000, so since the Old Spotted Dog has been in liquidation, they would have paid roughly £20,000 for two seasons’ rent.

Vodafone payments

The patch of grass dug up by Vodafone can be viewed on the right of the picture

There is a Vodafone phone mast inside the Old Spotted Dog, right next to the Scaffold, for which the company pays an annual rent for the privilege

That fee – assumed to be in the thousands – would obviously go to the leaseholder, now the liquidator, rather than a club that merely rents the facility.

But that’s not all. In October, the pitch at the Old Spotted Dog was dug up to allow Vodafone to upgrade the mast.

In doing so, Clapton FC were forced to play three home games at a neutral venue, and others switched to away grounds, as the Old Spotted Dog was out of action.

Experts in the industry have told us the fee for such inconvenience would have been at least £5,000. Payable – again – to the charity and its liquidator, we hope.

Breakers’ yard rent

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Chose the wrong day to shoot The Old Spotted Dog ground, as no one was home but will definitely be back on a match day to document properly (hopefully my team plays them again in pre season 🤞). Amazing historic feel to the place as it is the oldest senior football ground in London. Here's a few snaps from outside. . . The Old Spotted Dog Ground 🏟️📷. . . Future home of @claptoncfc ⚽. . . Capacity: 2000 (100 seated)👥 Built: 1888 (year opened) 📅 . . . . #awaystand #groundhopper #groundhopping #football #stadium #footballground #whereisfootball #london #clapton #ultras #claptonfc #theoldspotteddog #chickenbaltichronicles #mainstand #nonleague #claptonultras #awaydays #huaweip20 #nationalleague #grassroots #ecofriendly #eastlondon #photography

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Part of the Old Spotted Dog, to the right of the picture above, is used as a car breakers’ yard, having previously been a tyre fitters among others.

This is the only part of the ground owned freehold by Newham Community Leisure. The rest of the Old Spotted Dog is owned by a Heineken subsidiary with a long lease to Newham Community Leisure.

We have no idea of the rent due on this, however the cheapest rent we can find for a small commercial yard in East London is £5.000 per year.

Helicopter landing site

Forest Gate residents were concerned when a private helicopter landed on the pitch last April.

Complaints were made since helicopters are not allowed to fly within 500 feet of a person, vehicle or structure.

There were strong suggestions that the helicopter belonged to someone going to a West Ham game, since it landed and departed around the right times.

The cheapest helicopter landing fee we can find in London is £250. Let’s hope that went to the liquidator.

Urban Outfitters

Model Chris Amfo recently posted pictures of himself on the Old Spotted Dog pitch.

It turns out it was a photoshoot for fashion designer Liam Hodges’ collaboration with retailer Urban Outfitters,

The shoot took place in late January, judging by the photos. Sources suggest the location fee for this would be around £1000.

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Sunday league with Liam Hodges

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England band filming

In June 2018,  an advert of music video was filmed at the Old Spotted Dog with Ray Parlour, Paul Merson and the England Supporters’ Band.

Other games

The Old Spotted Dog is also rented out for occasional games by other teams. Here is an FA Sunday Cup tie taking place on it in October.

The standard fee is usually around £150 to £200 to hire a pitch.

Trevoh Chalobah filming

In late October, the ground was hired out by JD Sports for filming with Chelsea player Trevoh Chalobah, on loan with Ipswich.

That must have involved a four-figure payment winging its way to the liquidator.

Eid celebration

 

The local mosque hosts an Eid celebration on the pitch every year.

A great local community service you might think – except it is understood the mosque is charged £250 for just a few hours.

Again, that must be paid to the landlord, surely.

BBC3 filming

Mr McBean appearing on BBC3

Over the winter of 2018/19, BBC3 came to film at the Old Spotted Dog for a rather ill-thought out documentary on Ultras culture, glossing over the fact that the ground was empty and has seen no Ultras since April 2017.

Mr McBean was interviewed – and would obviously be entitled to a fee for his services. However, any location fee is surely separate and would have to go to the liquidator.

Festivals and parties

Judging by Instagram posts, there were at least private parties and/or music festivals held on the pitch over May Bank Holiday weekend and the other in June. We know no more than seeing photos of people sat drinking on the pitch.

Whatever the rental fee, it’s all good revenue for the liquidator – or at least we hope.

So where is the money going?

The revenue listed above is only what we are aware of. Some events we only know about having noticing activity in the Old Spotted Dog when walking past, or seeing social media posts.

As the capital’s oldest senior football ground. relatively close to central London, the Old Spotted Dog will always be popular as a location for photoshoots, film shoots and adverts.

We do not discourage anyone from using the Old Spotted Dog in such instances. However, please ensure that the fee gets paid to the leaseholder – currently the liquidator – and not the tenant, Mr McBean.

We have asked ST Bennett & Co to confirm that this commercial income is being received by them but have yet to receive a reply.

In the meantime we’re looking forward to seeing the next set of Newham Community Leisure accounts prepared by the liquidator, and seeing at least £40,000 income on there.

VINCE MCBEAN TELLS BBC: THE ULTRAS ARE THE HEART AND SOUL OF CLAPTON

The BBC have published a bizarre video about Ultras culture – filmed in an empty and silent Old Spotted Dog.

In the BBC3 mini-documentary, disillusioned West Ham supporter Justin goes to Italy and falls in love with the noise and colour generated by Ultras groups.

He then discusses English non-league Ultras culture and visits the Old Spotted Dog to interview Vince McBean – interestingly described as Clapton FC chairman *.

Mr McBean, standing on the empty terrace, says: “This is the famous Scaffold.”

When asked about the Ultras, Mr McBean replied: “They’re the heart and soul of the club, Those guys are the ones who make the club.”

It is interesting that he has gone on record to praise the Ultras at this stage. However, his words are at odds with his actions, such as…

  • Decrying those fans in many articles on the club website and in High Court documents
  • Sacking the club’s legendary captain, Jerry Jairette, shortly after his testimonial, for being too close to those fans
  • Submitting dossiers on fans to away clubs in a bid to get them banned (it worked with two clubs)
  • Publicly attacking Proudly East London, a community football tournament run by the Clapton Ultras that is avowedly anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic and very inclusive
  • Accusing the fans of being racist after they challenged his attempts to liquidate the ground with claims it owed him £164,123.

Justin and his film crew then stay for a game, where he talks about Ultras culture thriving at Clapton FC… despite there being no one in the ground and taking place in total silence.

For the avoidance of doubt…

  • The social media video clips used in the BBC3 documentary are all at least three years old but are spliced within the interview with Mr McBean so that it looks current
  • In fact, last summer the Clapton Ultras disbanded after six glorious years, 2012-2018.
  • This came after a long boycott of home games by the Ultras, and all other fan groups, due entirely to Mr McBean’s actions.
  • That means there have been no Ultras at a Clapton home game since April 22, 2017, almost two years ago
  • Average attendances at Clapton FC games this season are at 43, so not only are there no Ultras, there is no one else there beyond officials, players’ relatives, away fans and an occasional groundhopper
  • Members-run Clapton Community FC was launched in response to the intolerable actions of Mr McBean
  • For a BBC documentary crew to not know any of the above, when it is readily available on Google, is astonishing.

In short, the BBC managed to film a documentary about UK Ultras culture based around an interview with the one man in this country who has done most to destroy that.

We have contacted the film-makers in a bid to get some answers.

Watch the video in full here… https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/clip/f41124ba-6b55-401d-a976-be92114e6cdd

* Regular readers will know that Clapton FC’s chairman, Mark North, quit in November and a replacement has yet to be publicly announced.