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.

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BATTLE OVER ATTEMPED VOLUNTARY LIQUIDATION OF OLD SPOTTED DOG LEASEHOLDING COMPANY – THE LATEST

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The case of the liquidation of the Old Spotted Dog leaseholding charity/company is being heard at the Royal Courts of Justice

In March we brought the worrying news that the charitable company Newham Community Leisure Limited, which holds the lease on the Old Spotted Dog, had applied for voluntary liquidation.

To recap:

  • Owner: The Old Spotted Dog ground is owned by Scottish & Newcastle Brewery
  • Leaseholder: NCL holds the long-term lease, which runs for another 75 years
  • Tenants: NCL then rents the ground to Clapton FC as well as London Bari
  • Vince McBean is involved with both the leaseholder NCL and tenants Clapton FC

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.

Fans feared this voluntary liquidation would affect the club’s right to play at the Old Spotted Dog, its home since 1888, as well as London Bari (who next season will be known as Hackney Wick FC following a merger).

All went quiet for a while… then on 12th April 2017 came a big update from the campaign group Real Clapton FC direct from Royal Courts of Justice in London – the proposed voluntary liquidation was put on hold by a judge after an urgent application for an interim injunction.

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The form filed for voluntary liquidation of Newham Community Leisure Limited

The liquidator, Mr Bennett, then had the opportunity to contest the injunction, but we are told he has since consented to it remaining in place until the main case is heard.

That means the next step is waiting for the court to fix a day when a judge will decide on whether the voluntary liquidation can proceed/

Real Clapton FC has now raised over £8,000 of a £10,000 target for its action fund, to pay legal fees in the short term and establish a fan-owned club in the long term.

So could this attempted voluntary liquidation of the leaseholder affect Clapton’s ability to play at the Old Spotted Dog next season?

All member clubs must shortly prove to the Essex Senior League – presumably at their AGM on 22nd June 2017 – that they have a secure tenancy on a suitable ground for the whole upcoming season.

That seems under doubt when the leaseholder is attempting to go into liquidation with debts of over £200,000, and there is no indication of how the owner of the ground will react.

The club itself says no, it’s business as usual. A statement on its website on 1st April 2017 insisted the Clapton team “will be playing at the Old Spotted Dog Stadium, the same venue we will be playing matches at for seasons to come.”

Meanwhile Essex Senior League officials have also dismissed supporters’ concerns over the consequences of liquidation as mere ‘rumours’.

That is surprising confidence since the leaseholder company is in the hands of a liquidator. The directors of the company no longer have a say in what might happen. Tenants Clapton FC and Hackney Wick don’t either.

If the liquidation goes through, any transfer of the lease to another company will have to have the approval of the Charity Commission. NCL and its directors are currently under investigation.

We’ll have to wait for the conclusion of the court hearing to see what happens next.