The charity that owns the Old Spotted Dog has gone from having £7,000 surplus to a £233,000 debt in the Vince McBean era (Pic: Rich Bradley)



Clapton FC chief executive Vince McBean recently made his first public statement for over four months to explain why he was trying to liquidate the charity which runs the club”s historic Old Spotted Dog ground,

Mr McBean wrote on his club website, on 26th April: “Newham Community Leisure owes money and those individuals want their money back.”

Over a year since the attempted liquidation began, and as the court tussle rumbles on, we can finally reveal who those ‘individuals’ who want their money back are – and it’s mainly Vince McBean himself.

The court documents we have seen, dated May 4th 2018, show six creditors claiming to be owed £233.043 in total, of which £199,443 is to three individuals and the remainder to three companies.

  • Vince McBean £164.123
  • Shirley Doyle £24,070
  • Wilfred Thomas £11.250
  • ST Bennett & Co Insolvency Practitioners £22,000
  • Taylor Bridge Legal £9,600
  • Baptiste & Co Accountants £2,000

Mr McBean is listed as the biggest creditor by far, owed the lion’s share at £164.123.

The second biggest creditor Shirley Doyle, the club’s secretary, is said to be owed £24,070. Former Clapton manager Wilfred Thomas is down as being owed £11.250.

While the charity is said to owe over £230,000 now, accounts available on Companies House show that when Mr McBean arrived in January 2000, it had no debts. In fact it had a surplus of £7,653 and was running at an annual profit.

By 2012, however, the debts had grown to £80.765, but then the Clapton Ultras emerged, revitalising the club’s fortunes after decades in the doldrums. The next five years should have been a boom time for both the club and Newham Community Leisure.

Instead, during this time the debts built up even quicker and income dropped dramatically. Accounts for December 2015 show declared income of just £9,961 for the year. The rent from Clapton FC alone should have been more than that, not to mention that from tenants London Bari and Vodafone’s phone masts, plus other income streams and grants we outlined in a previous article

So instead of a golden period, we end up with Mr McBean’s Clapton FC back playing in front of tiny gates due to a fans’ boycott, while Mr McBean’s Newham Community Leisure has racked up a six-figure debt to Mr McBean.

The debt is marked down as ‘loans’ on the ‘declaration of solvency’ filed by Mr McBean in March 2017. So what has Newham Community Leisure spent the money it’s been borrowing on? It’s unknown.


The Old Spotted Dog has seen better days (Pic: Rich Bradley)

As we previously reported, there have been some ground improvements undertaken in the McBean era – a new gate, toilet block, scaffolding, two turnstiles, paint and some utilities work – but that is estimated to have cost below £20,000 rather than £200,000.

The only assets the charity claims – the freehold on the land currently used as a car breakers’ yard, and the leasehold on the rest of the Old Spotted Dog – predate Mr McBean’s time at the club. So whatever the £230,000 has been spent on, it isn’t regarded as an asset now.

Aside from the three individuals listed above, there are also three professional services companies listed as creditors for a total of £33,600.

Taylor Bridge Legal, run by struck-off solicitor Antoinette Olivia Taylor, has lodged a claim for £9,600. We are unable to contact Ms Taylor for comment, as her company has no website, email address or phone number listed online. Its listing on Companies House suggests the firm deals in real estate and copyright issues and general business services.

There are also self-explanatory amounts claimed by the charity’s long-term accountants, Baptiste & Co, for £2,000 and the liquidator, ST Bennett & Co, for £22,000. (Of course the liquidator’s claim would not have existed if the liquidation had not been voluntarily sought by Mr McBean.)

In the same recent article on the club website, Mr McBean admitted he wanted to sell a part of the Old Spotted Dog to pay back creditors, which we now know is mainly himself.

The consequences of losing this parcel of land – now used as a car breaker’s yard – could be disastrous for Clapton FC’s future at London’s oldest senior ground.

London, England - Google Maps

The entrance to the warehouse area at the back of the Old Spotted Dog which Mr McBean says he would like to sell (Pic: Google Street View)

This is the only part of the Old Spotted Dog that could be cleared for a parking area for an away team’s coach and cars – essential, along with more seating and larger dressing rooms, for the ground to host football above the Essex Senior League.

So what was the £200,000 owed to the three individuals spent on? And does Mr McBean think he is the best custodian of Clapton FC and the Old Spotted Dog, having run up huge debts. while he tries to liquidate and partially sell off the ground, all to pay off creditors demanding money, led by Mr McBean?

We contacted Mr McBean and Ms Doyle via Clapton FC for comment before publication. However, we have received no reply as the club introduced a policy in November of not speaking to us.

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. The petition is closing on May 28th.




1 – Lanre Vigo kickstarts our article by holding one finger up. Pic:


Congratulations to the Tons playing staff, and thanks to the long-suffering fans, for another historic season in very trying circumstances.

2 – clubs, Southend Manor and Met Police, which banned Clapton’s away supporters due to fear of ‘pyro’ being used, despite a vote from the Ultras not to use them, which was rigidly adhered to.

3 – FA Cup rounds played, the first time we’ve won two FA Cup ties in a season since 1995/6.

4 – clubs who posted their highest ever attendance in their history when hosting the Tons this season – Hackney Wick, London Lions, Tower Hamlets and Wadham Lodge. 21 clubs recorded their season best crowd with the Tons in town.

5 – fifth season in a row the Tons finished in the top half of the table, for the first time since 1926/7.

6– articles on the official Clapton FC website relating to the team during the entire season, the most recent being on October 14th. The website went four months without any news update at all.

8 – Winning streak of games in the league from Enfield at home on October 3rd to Barkingside away on November 10th. The longest running streak since 1982/3.

10 – seasons of service that Jerry Jairette gave the club before being sacked, in his testimonial year, after criticising opponents who had banned fans. The club collected 36 in 17 games while Jerry was still there , at 2.12 points per game, and 27 points in 23 games afterwards, at 1.17 points per game,

11 – goalkeepers used , including outfield players Jerry Jairette and Nick Loblack, and including 6 keepers in 3 games.

18 – attendance at Clapton’s lowest gate of the season, the home game against Hackney Wick FC. The reverse fixture pulled in 785.

21 – goals scored by winger Jeffrey Cobblah in his first season at the club. Other top scorers were midfielder Steven Sardinha on 13, winger Aundre Spencer on 7 and defender Dylan Ebengo, striker Hassan Nalbant and midfielder Jay Morris all on 4,

53 – Average attendance at Clapton home league games this season, down from 388 for non-boycotted games the previous season.

63 – points gained this season, down from 92 in 2016/7 and 67 in 2015/6, but still the third best total since 1982/3.

64 – players used during the season as manager Jonny Fowell struggled to find a settled line-up.

186 – average attendance at Clapton away games.

273 – days the fans boycotted home games – the whole season. From the opening game on July 29th, through 20 league games and 7 cup games, to the final game on April 28th.

460 – the record amount, in pounds, that Clapton fans raised for the annual Newham Recorder Christmas Toy Appeal

785 – the attendance at Clapton’s away game at Hackney Wick, the largest in the Essex Senior League since Jimmy Greaves played for Brentwood at Billericay Town in 1976.


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.



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.


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?


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


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.


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


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.