PUTTING THE OLD DOG DOWN – A TIMELINE FOR LIQUIDATION

It’s been a rough 2017 so far for Clapton Football Club off the pitch.

Reports of gross mismanagement from club hierarchy have overshadowed the Tons’ best league finish in nearly three decades and dogged the team’s early-season preparations.

With the players and coaching staff doing their best to keep things ticking over on the pitch, supporter calls for clarity and accountability continue to go unanswered over what many regard as a crisis at 212 Upton Lane.

Clapton Chief Executive, Vince McBean, has yet to publicly comment over his attempt to liquidate the charitable trust* that administers The Old Spotted Dog ground.

The historic site, home to Clapton for over 129 years, is now registered with ST Bennett & Co, insolvency practitioners based in Buckhurst Hill.

However, Mr McBean has continued to trade from the venue he is now legally estranged from, starting the new season with the blessing from the Essex Senior League and apparent tacit approval of the FA.

This legal contradiction has left supporters and some local residents deeply concerned about what is really happening down at the historic football ground.

With what information is available in the public domain, we’ve put together a timeline to try to help explain events leading up to Clapton’s famous home being placed into liquidation, and what has happened since at the beleaguered Old Dog.

 

22 Dec 2016​ – Trustees of Newham Community Leisure Ltd*, including Vincent McBean, directed to attend offices of the Charity Commission for interview. No trustees in attendance. Meeting rearranged for 19 Jan 2017.

19 Jan 2017 – Rescheduled meeting with the Charity Commission & Newham Community Leisure trustees again postponed due to non-availability of trustees. New date for interviews set for 2nd March 2017.

26 Jan 2017 – A new company, ​Veercourt CIC London, is incorporated at ‘Clapton Football Ground’, listing its Industry as ‘Operation of Sports Ground’. Veercourt’s only director is Vincent McBean.

1 Mar 2017 – Newham Community Leisure Ltd enters Members Voluntary Liquidation, appointing ST Bennett & Co as liquidator.

2 Mar 2017​ – Charity Commission interview, that had been postponed twice due to non-attendance of trustees, cancelled due to the insolvency entered the day before.

10 Apr 2017​ – Injunction obtained at High Court by a trustee of Newham Community Leisure Ltd and Clapton FC life member, placing a stay on liquidation.

15 Apr 2017​ – Essex Senior League Secretary Michelle Dorling writes a letter to the liquidator outlining the ‘continued harrassment’ Mr McBean is said to have endured and the league’s ‘integral’ role in attempting to help ‘defuse allegations’ made against him.

24 May 2017 – The Old Spotted Dog is awarded Asset of Community Value status by Newham Council following a supporter-led campaign.

22 Jun 2017 – Clapton FC given the ESL AGM as deadline to provide evidence it has the right to play home fixtures at the Old Spotted Dog. Mr McBean provides a document dated 19th November 2016 (prior to liquidation) as proof. This was accepted by the ESL.

19 Jul 2017 – Mr McBean is a respondent in a hearing at the High Court regarding the liquidation attempt. The judge directs the Charity Commission should be included in proceedings.

12 Aug 2017 – Clapton host their first home fixture on the 2017/18 Essex Senior League season.

 

*Newham Community Leisure Ltd is a registered charity, incorporated in February 1992. Previously named the ‘Clapton Trust Limited’ it was set up to independently administer The Old Spotted Dog ground. Vincent McBean became chairman of NCL in January 2000, shortly after taking over at Clapton Football Club.

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NEWHAM COMMUNITY LEISURE LIMITED FILES FOR VOLUNTARY LIQUIDATION

After reporting last month that Clapton Football Club 1878 Limited had failed to file its Confirmation Statement and was being threatened with being struck off, we can now reveal, in extremely worrying news for Clapton fans, that Newham Community Leisure Limited, the company and charity which holds the lease on The Old Spotted Dog Ground, has applied for voluntary liquidation.

In documents published by Companies House it is shown that the members of the trust entered voluntary liquidation and appointed a liquidator, Stewart Bennett, on 1st March 2017. The document is signed by Vincent McBean, Ransford Taylor and Trevor Gordon, who are listed as being the majority of the trustees of Newham Community Leisure Limited.

The documents also show that the trust owes £203,478 in ‘Long Term Loans’, as well as £2,001 in accountancy fees. The cost of liquidation until the payment of debts in full is estimated at £19,095.

At the moment it is unclear how this will affect Clapton FC. In the short-term it is understood that before the 31st March, the club have to provide the Essex Senior League and the FA with proof of their being able to play at the Old Spotted Dog for the entirety of next season. As the insolvency process can take some months, it is unknown how this could be provided. This may also affect London Bari FC who also play at the Dog.

The trust was set up in 1992 as Clapton Trust Limited before changing its name a year later to Newham Community Leisure Trust Limited. In January 1995, the then Directors of the trust negotiated a 99-year lease with the freeholder Grand Metropolitan Estates, securing the land for use as a sports ground.

It was struck off in 2003 after failing to file accounts, before being restored by Vince McBean in 2009. It appears from documents filed at this time that McBean attempted to transfer the lease from the trust, however it seems he was unable to do so. Since then the trust has regularly failed to file its Annual Return on time and has been threatened with being struck off twice. According to Companies House, the most recent Confirmation Statement (the newer form of the Annual Return) was due by 18th February 2017 and is currently overdue.

Clapton FC News understands that Real Clapton FC are in contact with the Charity Commission and the Liquidator in an attempt to safeguard the future of the ground. You can become a member of the club here and/or donate to their Supporters’ Action fund here.