YOUTUBER MARK NORTH SET TO BECOME VINCE McBEAN’S NEW RIGHT-HAND MAN

Chairman John Murray-Smith is the latest departure from Clapton – but a replacement is due to be unveiled soon, we can reveal.

The chairman’s exit follows on from a string of departures in recent months: of fans’ groups to Clapton CFC; the last youth team quitting to join Hackney Wick; and legendary player Jerry Jairette, forced out after 10 years during his testimonial year.

Mr Murray-Smith’s replacement comes from YouTube football team United London, which has folded after two seasons. Its chairman Mark North is now lined up to become Vince McBean’s right-hand man.

United London had billed itself as ‘the world’s first managerless football club’ with users invited to download an app to select the team.

It had competed in the Essex Alliance Premier, Step 12 of the football pyramid, with home games played on the 3G pitch at Frances Bardsley Academy girls’ school in Romford.

The day after the announcement, the defunct club’s chairman Mark North, 39, responded to Twitter rumours that he would join Mr McBean’s team by admitting he would be unveiled ‘very soon’.

United London had been elected to the Essex Olympian League, and placed in Division 3, which is Step 10, this summer.

Their withdrawal leaves the division with just 11 clubs for the 2018/9 season.

Mr North will now join Mr McBean at Step 5 football.

Mr Murray-Smith is still listed as chairman on Mr McBean’s website but was described in passing in a statement on June 22 as the ‘ex-chairman.’

Sources suggest Mr Murray-Smith, who runs an insurance company, was chairman in little more than on paper. He did not attend games and there are no references to him in Google or on Mr McBean’s website except for the fact he held the post.

Mr North is expected to be more involved and told us: “I left United London to take up this post as I believe that the club has so much untapped potential and an iconic status in non-league.

“I’m here to work hard and give my free time like all the volunteers to help the club progress.

“I do not come into this club with a negative mindset, only focusing on the positive work that can and will be done over the coming months and years.”

When asked about specific issues over the management of the club and the Old Spotted Dog ground, which is currently in liquidation ahead of a High Court case, Mr North gave a more general reply.

He said: “I’m not blind to the previous issues and all know that there is a lot of work to do both on and off the field, however my sole focus is to look ahead to the future.”

We asked him how he would become chairman since Clapton Members Club has been ‘closed for restructuring’ since 2013, and its rules state you need to be a member to be elected chair. Does this mean membership has now reopened? Mr North declined to comment.

We  also approached Mr McBean for comment. However, readers will be aware the club has a long-standing policy of not responding to us. In fact we have not had the courtesy of even acknowledgement to over 20 requests for comment in the last year.

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VINCE MCBEAN FORCED TO BACKTRACK ON ATTACK ON ANTI-RACISM FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT

Clapton FC’s team, led by Andre Thomas, with the Fans For Diversity flag at Proudly East London 2016

Vince McBean has been forced to remove an inaccurate article from his claptonfc.com website that attacked a local annual anti-discrimination football tournament.

The climbdown over the Proudly East London tournament came after the Football Association launched a probe into Mr McBean’s comments and Kick It Out chairman Lord Ouseley requested Mr McBean withdrawn his name.

Mr McBean had accused organisers of the non-profit, inclusive football event, involving teams such as Queerspace East, Stonewall and Football Beyond Borders, of lying about receiving support from the pioneering equality and inclusion group, Kick It Out.

However, in fact Kick It Out had generously helped to fund the community-driven event for the past three seasons through its Fans For Diversity fund run jointly with the Football Supporters Federation.

The Proudly East London football tournament logo

Included in the original article was a quote from Lord Ouseley, who has since told Clapton FC News this was a result of a misunderstanding and that Fans For Diversity had indeed provided funds for the maximum three-year period allowed.

Lord Ousley told Clapton FC News: “My statement may have been based on a misunderstanding. To avoid further misrepresentations or inferences, I have asked Mr McBean to remove it from his website. He has agreed to do so and to inform me as soon as done.”

Mr McBean’s website was taken offline completely for a week but is now back online. The article in question ‘Kick It Out support claim untrue’ is now a broken link, A tweet summarising the attack, however, remains online at time of publication.

A new article ‘Updated: KickItOut support claim’,  featuring a much longer statement, has been uploaded to Mr McBean’s website today but with Lord Ouseley’s quotes thankfully removed.

Lord Ouseley stressed he does not wish to take sides in the long-running and bitter dispute between fans and chief executive Mr McBean. He said: “Kick it Out does not wish to be caught up in this dispute nor to be seen to be supporting one side or another.

“We have used our best endeavours to get the football authorities to try to sort it so that we can support all good work being done through football in the local area.”

In the same article, Mr McBean also insisted Clapton FC had had no connection whatsoever to the tournament, which is avowedly anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic and very inclusive.

However, Mr McBean’s management, coaches and players have entered official teams for each of the three years Proudly East London has been held to date.

Mr McBean’s own @claptonfootball Twitter account even posted many updates during the tournaments and praised the event and its organisers, the Clapton Ultras.

Last year, then-assistant manager Andre Thomas led Clapton FC’s team to victory in the men’s tournament for the second year in a row, while the Easton Cowgirls from Bristol won the women’s tournament.

In previous years, then Clapton manager Mike Walther and current first team coach Marc Nurse have led the Clapton team.

When contacted, the Essex Senior League committee chose to back Mr McBean’s original, now-deleted, article, insisting it was not their responsibility.

ESL secretary Michelle Dorling told Clapton FC News: “As this is an outside competition it does not come under our jurisdiction.”

This is despite the ESL’s own rule 8.14 which states they are responsible for overseeing what is posted on clubs’ websites: “Nothing shall be included on the website… which brings the [ESL] into disrepute.”

An FA spokesman said they had asked the London FA to investigate after their attention was drawn to Mr McBean’s statement and the subsequent handling by the ESL.

Organisers of Proudly East London did not want to comment when approached by Clapton FC News, except to stress they were hugely grateful for Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation for their amazing support since the tournament was launched.

Today they tweeted for the first time in 10 months to hint the tournament will once again take place this summer despite Mr McBean’s attack with details published soon.

We contacted Mr McBean several times but he declined to comment – in line with his long-standing policy not to speak to us.

In the meantime, follow Proudly East London on Twitter, and check out the amazing work by Kick It Out, Fans For Diversity and Football Supporters’ Federation.

Here’s a promo video made by Copa 90 for the tournament, whose slogan is: “Everything racists hate about east London – its diversity, multiculturalism and greater tolerance… the reasons why we are proud to call it home.”

 

CLAPTON YOUTH TEAMS QUIT AND MOVE TO HACKNEY WICK

Clapton’s under 18s in action in the Ingilby Cup semi-final, losing on penalties to Buckhurst Hill

Clapton is without any  youth system after both its current teams decided to quit the Old Spotted Dog after just one year.

Clapton U16 and U18 teams were resurrected last season, having been axed by chief executive Vince McBean the year before.

However, this time it’s the youth teams who have decided to depart, and will now play under the Hackney Wick FC name with games at Mabley Green in Hackney.

A statement from the coaches, to confirm the news, said: “With great regret the youth section will not be at Clapton next year and all our teams and officers will be leaving to another club.”

The coaches’ new set-up at Hackney Wick is being expanded and will feature boys’ U11s, U15s, U16s and U18s teams and a girls’ U17s team.

The statement added: “Speaking to the parents and most importantly the boys, who play and train week in, week out during the season, we all believe we should continue growing away from Clapton.”

In Clapton U18s’ only season they won one cup, reached another cup semi-final, and finished runners-up in the league, the Eastern Junior Alliance.

Some of the youth players stepped up to make their debut in the Tons’ first team. One of them, highly-rated full-back Max Henry, is believed to have been given the chance to join the first team squad.

Several of the Clapton youth team games attracted substantial crowds and the coaches added: “We would like to say thank you to the fans who were wonderful to us during matches, the boys loved it!  I don’t think the EJA has ever had that much fans at a league game.”

The ‘Clapton FC Youth’ Twitter account is already no more, having been renamed Hackney Wick Youth Academy today, but still features some highlights of the past season.

 

 

Over recent years Clapton has axed its reserve team, U18s, U17s, U16s, U15s, U14s and U13s, as well as its women’s football section, before the U18s and U16s’ brief revival.

The move means Clapton currently fields only a first team.

Clapton FC News would like to thank all the players who served the Tons so well last season. All the best for the future. 

We have approached the club for comment but they have a policy of refusing to speak to us.

HOW VINCE McBEAN BOUGHT CLAPTON FC FOR JUST £4,800

The third instalment in the Vince McBean Files, a new series looking at Clapton FC chief executive’s track record working in football and charity sector.

How Mr McBean managed to get control of Clapton FC is particularly complicated and disputed.

Indeed, campaigners insist the transaction was never legal in the first place and this may still be challenged in the courts, 18 years on.

However, as much as we can surmise, here’s what we believe happened…

A company called Knights Securities Plc agreed a deal in November 1999 to pay £63.200 for Clapton FC.

Mr McBean represented the company in negotiations with the club, and had until recently been on its committee, but he had quietly stepped down, leaving his friends and former partners on the committee.

A cheque was issued for the sale, signed by Mr McBean, although it is point of dispute whether the payment actually went through.

Following this takeover by Mr McBean’s associates, the assets of the club were transferred to a new company, Clapton Members Club.

This proved to be a rather ironic company name since the previous life members, committee members and club members of Clapton FC were cast aside, and the club has remained closed to new members due to ‘restructuring’.

Seven months later, Mr McBean’s associates on Knights Securities committee pushed through one last deal, selling Clapton Members Club on to Mr McBean himself.

The price? Just £4,800! That’s around £7,600 at today’s prices.

That was Knights Securities Plc’s last act before it was struck off at Companies House in February 2001.

We have asked Mr McBean for comment via Clapton FC but the club have recently reiterated that “we will not be responding directly to Clapton FC News on any issue relating to the club, its members, officers, players or activities.”

CHEQUERED HISTORY OF THE OLD SPOTTED DOG IN THE VINCE MCBEAN ERA

The second instalment in the Vince McBean Files, a series looking at Clapton chief executive’s track record working in football and the charity sector. Here we look at Mr McBean’s stewardship of Clapton’s home ground, the Old Spotted Dog.

We have previously reported that Mr McBean is attempting to liquidate the leaseholding charity that runs the Old Spotted Dog – and that he claims he has loaned it £164,000 and wants his money back.

These are not the only dramatic moments in Mr McBean’s era at the Old Spotted Dog. Here are five things you might not know…

1. HOW THE CLUB ALMOST LEFT THE OLD SPOTTED DOG

When Mr McBean arrived at Clapton FC and the charity Newham Community Leisure Trust in December 1999, he inherited plans to move the club out of its Old Spotted Dog home.

The idea had been rumbling on for several years, and in February 2000, the club announced it wanted to move to the Terence McMillan athletics stadium in nearby Plaistow.

Newham Recorder article on the attempt to move Clapton to the Terry Mac in 2000

The bid for outline planning permission, unveiled in the Newham Recorder, involved upgrading the Terry Mac’s then very basic facilities to make it suitable for football. At the time, even the field inside the athletics track wasn’t big enough for a football pitch.

The Old Spotted Dog would have had a synthetic pitch laid and be used for reserve and youth team games plus other sports, including hockey, plus an indoor sports centre, gym, bar and cafe.

The club admitted: “We need National Lottery money to improve the stadium. For that we will need a proper business plan, which have not got.”

That backing appears not to have materialised as the plans were shelved a few months later.

2. FORCED TO LEAVE OLD SPOTTED DOG FOR A SEASON

Clapton FC spent the entire 2001/2 season playing away from the Old Spotted Dog.

The Isthmian League and the FA closed the ground before the start of the 2001/2 season with officials claiming ground improvements they’d ordered to be undertaken hadn’t.

Nick Robinson of the Isthmian League told the Newham Recorder at the time: “We had a number of complaints last year and we went there in July and gave Clapton four weeks to carry out the necessary improvements. When we went back the work hadn’t been done.”

He added that a further inspection in September revealed that seven items were still outstanding.

Mr McBean told the Newham Recorder: “I don’t believe we have a problem. There is nothing of substance which I could say is a real problem.

“As it stands, we are having to pay a lot of money to play elsewhere and I am writing to the league to ask them to answer a number of concerns.”

Article from September 2001 on Clapton’s ongoing exile from the Old Spotted Dog

In the words of Mr McBean at the time: “The 2001-02 season ended with Clapton not playing a single  game at our ground and having to scrounge around for alternative venues to play all our home games.”

The Tons played most of their ‘home’ games at Aveley but also ground-shared at Purfleet (who became East Thurrock), Barking & East Ham United (now Barking), Wembley FC and even Hertford Town.

The home FA Cup tie against Somersett Ambury V & E, now known as Broxbourne Borough, had to be switched to the away team’s ground, with the result being a 5-0 defeat.

The club were summoned to a meeting in October to discuss how to resolve the issue.

However, they were forced to continue to pay ‘home’ games at neutral venues for the rest of the season.

Mr McBean has previously claimed he inherited the situation from previous ownership – for instance on April 26th he wrote “when we arrived… the ground was condemned”.

However, it was 18 months into his stewardship, and in his third season, that the Isthmian League intervened, and after several warnings.

3. TRIED TO BUY THE OLD SPOTTED DOG

Conversely in January 2003, at the time he was trousering £9,050 per week salary from the Knights Millenium Foyer homeless charity which collapsed soon afterwards, Mr McBean tried to buy the freehold of the Old Spotted Dog himself from the brewery which owns it.

The brewery declined the offer, writing: “Unfortunately, your offer has not been accepted and it is the company’s position they would prefer to retain the income stream for the time being as this outweighs any liabilities that we have on the land.”

The letter to Mr V McBean, declining his offer to buy the freehold

Note that this offer did not come from Newham Community Leisure Trust, the leaseholding charity, but Mr McBean himself.

4. TRIED TO TRANSFER THE LEASE

Mr McBean wrote on his website on April 26th that “there has never been an application to sell the Old Spotted Dog, transfer it into a company… or any other action”.

However, court documents that we have seen show he applied to the High Court ten years ago to transfer the lease.

The Newham Community Leisure Trust charity had been struck off in 2003 and deregistered by the Charity Commission due to maladminstration.

Mr McBean opened up a ‘doppelganger’ company with exactly the same name as the charity in order to carry on trading.

From court documents we know that this plan stalled. So Mr McBean instead went to the High Court to apply for the original Newham Community Leisure Trust charity to be restored.

Mr McBean’s aim was of ‘transferring its leasehold interest in Clapton Football Ground from its ownership’. In other words, the charity needed to be reactivated, at least temporarily, in order for it to transfer its lease to someone else.

The restoration of the charity was granted in the High Court in October 2008. It’s unclear what happened to the plan to transfer the leasehold interest and who it was to be transferred to.

5. SELF-PROCLAIMED ‘DEVELOPER’

Finally, it should be noted that on Companies House, just prior to his interest in Clapton and the Old Spotted Dog, Mr McBean listed his occupation as ‘developer’ on one of several firms he has been connected with that have been liquidated or struck off.

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So Mr McBean has tried to transfer the lease, buy the freehold, moved the club to Aveley temporarily and inherited plans to move it to the Terence McMillan stadium permanently.

Now Mr McBean, by his own declaration, wishes to sell part of the ground. Fortunately an ACV (Asset of Community Value) listing forced by Clapton fans in 2017 will make any sale and development on London’s oldest senior football ground that little bit harder.

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.

We have asked Mr McBean for comment via Clapton FC but the club have recently reiterated that “we will not be responding directly to Clapton FC News on any issue relating to the club, its members, officers, players or activities.”

REVEALED: THE OLD SPOTTED DOG CREDITORS WHO VINCE MCBEAN CLAIMS ARE DEMANDING THEIR MONEY BACK

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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.

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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.

2017/8 – CLAPTON’S SEASON IN NUMBERS

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1 – Lanre Vigo kickstarts our article by holding one finger up. Pic: https://www.piispanenossi.com/

 

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.