NEWHAM MAYOR TO MEET THE ‘SAVE THE OLD SPOTTED DOG’ CAMPAIGN GROUP

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Rokhsana Fiaz responds to the public question about the Old Spotted Dog ground

Newham’s new mayor Rokhsana Fiaz has agreed to meet the Save the Old Spotted Dog campaign group in its battle to save Clapton’s historic ground.

The pledge came in the public questions section of Newham Council’s meeting last night and follows on from a campaign launch meeting followed by 1,750 people signing a petition calling on the council to help secure the OSD’s future.

Rokhsana, who has been in office for just a few months, said the council is committed to “maintaining the Old Spotted Dog Ground as an asset of community value, run for the benefit of local people.”

She added: “I would like to see the football ground, the Old Spotted Dog, remain, driven, shaped and overseen in terms of its governance by local people.”

Vince McBean, who sparked the current crisis by plunging the charity that ran the OSD into liquidation, was also present at the meeting but did not get chance to speak. We have asked him for comment but he has not responded, in line with his long-standing ‘no comment’ policy.

You can see the full question and answer in the video below, or scroll down to read it,

Question from Save the Old Spotted Dog campaigner

Kevin Blowe of the Save the OSD said: “In 2017, the charity holding the lease to the Old Spotted Dog football ground in Upton Lane, Forest Gate, went into administration.

“This was at a crucial moment in the investigation by the Charity Commission into conflicts of interest and lack of financial accountability by trustees.

“Although now nominally in the hands of the liquidator, however, the charity trust has continued to control the ground.

“The petition signed by 1750 people is calling on Newham Council to help secure a future for the Old Spotted Dog ground.

“We ask the new mayor for a statement on the Old Spotted Dog, a meeting with the campaign, and for the council to support a plan to replace the charity currently facing liquidation with a new charity to guarantee the sports’ ground’s long-term future.”

Newham Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz’s response

“I view the Old Spotted Dog ground as a really vital and important Asset of Community Value, something that we as a council have recognised, acknowledged and accepted.

“I understand that there is an ongoing series of disputes between various pertaining to the charity, Newham Community Leisure Trust, and issues around ownership and governance of Clapton Football Club, and I’m also aware that there’s concern by a significant following of football fans, the Clapton Ultras, and other members of the local community here in Newham, and outside.

“I want to say this. In terms of the statement you are asking me, around the situation at the Old Spotted Dog, I say this. Let’s not lose sight of the central issue of concern to me. That this is an asset of significant community value.

“In our local plan, it features as a protected Green Infrastructure, and what I’m here to ensure is that while all the legalities between various parties is conducted, with liquidators or administrators, that we protect the inherent value of the ground, its history, the way it’s shaped the identity of the Forest Gate community, and ensuring that it remains very much an asset that is determined by local residents and the community.

“So I’m happy to arrange a meeting with the campaign, to look into more detail about the concerns they have, to see what we can actively do as a council to support the integrity of it being and remaining an asset of community value, and to ensure it does not get caught in a crossfire of very significant proportions.

“And I want to finally to make clear that I would like to see the football ground, the Old Spotted Dog, remain, driven, shaped and overseen in terms of its governance by local people.”

What’s next

The next stage in the campaign is to hand over the petition to the Charity Commission. They were told by the High Court to publish their report into Newham Community Leisure Trust last year, but have still not done so.

A tweet from the @savetheosd campaign Twitter account gives the details…

“Join us outside the Charity Commission (102 Petty France, London SW1H 9AJ) on Monday 25th June at 6pm.

“We are demanding the immediate release of its report on the charity controlling the Old Spotted Dog Ground.”

The next stage in the legal tussle over the Old Spotted Dog will be another case management hearing at the High Court in August with a full trial perhaps as far away as early 2019.

CCFC

The Old Spotted Dog situation took another twist last week when 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 start the season 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.”

A CCFC spokesperson told us: “We are looking forward to returning to the Old Spotted Dog one day and so we welcome the mayor’s pledge for a meeting to discuss the council’s involvement in the campaign to have the ground run by the local community.

“We would love to be part of that, and indeed Community is literally our middle name. We still regard ourselves as a Forest Gate club and we will be making sure to maintain our strong ties with the area while we are playing in Walthamstow.”

Mr McBean’s own Clapton FC is by constitution supposed to be a members club but has long been closed to new members. It has made no public statement, and has taken its website offline, but is expected to start the season in the Essex Senior League, at the Old Spotted Dog.

You can find out more about Clapton CFC and become a member here. Follow the Save the OSD Twitter page here.

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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.

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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.

MCBEAN COMES CLEAN, BUT NEW REVELATIONS COME AT A COST FOR WORRIED FANS

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?

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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.

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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