JUDGE ORDERS WITNESS STATEMENTS TO BE SIGNED WITHIN A WEEK AS OLD SPOTTED DOG CASE BACK IN THE HIGH COURT

The latest stage in the battle over the attempted liquidation of the charity that used to run Clapton’s historic home, the Old Spotted Dog, took place in the High Court on Friday.

Chief Registrar Nicholas Briggs, sitting at the Rolls Building, presided over a costs hearing involving Vince McBean, who is attempting to liquidate the Newham Community Leisure charity, and those petitioners who oppose it.

Chief Registrar Briggs set down a strict timetable leading up to the trial, beginning with Mr McBean and his fellow respondents Trevor Gordon and Ransford Taylor, being asked to refile their witness statement, along with signed statements of truth, by 4pm ‪next Friday‬.

Chief Registrar Briggs said these witnesses who sign a statement of truth would also be required to appear before court for cross-examination, otherwise their evidence would not be heard.

Further deadlines were laid down, including for submission of skeleton arguments and for submission of bundles of documents.

If the process adheres to those deadlines, the case would next be due in court after ‪9 November 2018.‬

A full trial would take place over at least four days and likely not till next summer, Chief Registrar Briggs said.

Mr McBean had no legal representation and instead represented himself, and Mr Taylor and Mr Gordon too, in court.

He declined to come to an agreement over costs, which were estimated by the petitioners as £64,000 for just a two-day trial alone.

In the meantime, the liquidator is nominally in charge of the Old Spotted Dog, which currently has Mr McBean’s team and Step 6 side Hackney Wick as joint tenants.

in recent months, life members and fans have re-established a members’ run club, Clapton CFC in the Middlesex League, while the entire youth team set-up separately decided to quit too.

Chairman John Murray-Smith, assistant manager Wayne Seal, and first team coach Marc Nurse have also departed this summer, for a variety of reasons.

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SAVE THE OLD SPOTTED DOG SUMMER UPDATE

The season may have taken a three-month break, but the fight to save London’s oldest senior football ground has continued over the summer.

Last month, Save the Old Spotted Dog protesters turned up outside the Charity Commission’s headquarters to deliver a 1.750-signature petition calling upon them to release their report.

The Charity Commission first investigated the charity that runs Clapton’s home in 2002 and concluded that “little or no charitable activity was undertaken at the Old Spotted Dog Ground”.

As the news report in trade journal Civic Society states, concerns were reported again in April 2013. Over five years later, the Charity Commission has yet to deliver its report.

However, the Charity Commission did confirm to Civil Society it has opened a statutory inquiry – its more serious kind of investigation.

A spokeswoman told them: “The Commission has an ongoing statutory inquiry looking into the governance and financial management of the charity, Newham Community Leisure Trust.

“We have not yet drafted a report, however it is our intention to publish a report setting out our findings and conclusions on completion of the inquiry.

“We recognise the interest that the local community and supporters of the football club have in this matter, and are fully aware of their concerns.”

Then in July, the Save the Old Spotted Dog campaign held a stall at Forest Gate Festival to find out what a proper. community-run football ground could be used for.

One of the dozens of Forest Gate Festival visitors to drop by was Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, who particularly liked the idea for outdoor cinema in the summer.

Other ideas suggested by Forest Gate residents included outdoor yoga, keep fit for the elderly and football games for local schools and clubs.

A Save the OSD spokesman said:”We are grateful for the enthusiastic support from the Mayor and for so many great ideas from local people at our consultation – from greater access to the Old Spotted Dog Ground’s club house to community events and healthy living activities.

“We believe this valuable resource will have a more sustainable future if it is genuinely open to Newham residents and run for the benefit of the local area.”

“Keep the ideas coming for a genuinely accessible community venue, to savetheOSD@gmail.com”

 

In other news, Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz has officially responded to the petition, and pledged she is happy to meet with campaigners.

She said: “The Council’s ‘Local Plan: Detailed Sites and Policies Development Plan Document’ identifies the Old Spotted Dog football ground as protected green infrastructure, and our current planning policy seeks to improve the quality and accessibility of existing open spaces.

“I would be happy to arrange a meeting with the campaign to look into this case and discuss further”.

In the meantime, the Old Spotted Dog has been in the hands of a liquidator for over a year while a High Court case rumbles on over whether the charity can be wound up.

The next stage in the legal tussle will be another case management hearing at the High Court, currently slated for August 17th, with a full trial perhaps as far away as early 2019.

Clapton 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 be 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.”

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.

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.”

HOW VINCE McBEAN PAID HIMSELF £9,050 PER WEEK RUNNING CHARITY FOR HOMELESS YOUNGSTERS BEFORE IT COLLAPSED

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.

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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.

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.

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

OLD SPOTTED DOG GROUND LIQUIDATION IN THE HIGH COURT – LATEST SITUATION

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.