A LUCRATIVE YEAR AT THE OLD SPOTTED DOG – BUT WHERE IS THE MONEY GOING?

It’s still a lucrative time at the Old Spotted Dog, even while the charity that holds the lease is in liquidation.

We estimate the ground has generated income of at least £40,000 since March 2017, when liquidator ST Bennett & Co took over.

That’s good news – as long as the money is finding its way back to the liquidator, as it legally should.

As a reminder, the Old Spotted Dog and Clapton Football Club are entirely separate bodies.

The Old Spotted Dog is owned freehold by a subsidiary of Heineken and leased to a charity, Newham Community Leisure, which is now in liquidation.

Meanwhile Clapton FC is one of two football clubs who are tenants of the Old Spotted Dog. Clapton FC is supposed to be a members club, though has been closed to new members for at least six years.

The situation gets complicated because Vince McBean is the Clapton FC chief executive and he and his associates were also trustees of Newham Community Leisure.

They placed it into voluntary liquidation two years ago claiming it owed nearly £200,000 to themselves. That liquidation is being challenged in the High Court, but a date for a hearing has still not been set two years on.

Mr McBean’s handling of the charity is also the subject of a Charity Commission investigation, which began five years ago but has still not concluded.

Liquidator ST Bennett of Buckhurst Hill is supposed to run the facility on behalf of Newham Community Leisure. It’s our understanding, however, that the liquidator has instead entered a service level agreement with Clapton FC and Mr McBean.

Essentially, Mr McBean runs the Old Spotted Dog as before – mows the pitch, maintains the ground, deals with admin etc – and in return his club doesn’t have to pay any rent.

Mr McBean no longer has large gate receipts from Clapton FC home games to draw upon.  All Clapton fan groups and bodies – including us – have maintained an impeccably observed boycott of home games since his liquidation

Please note the below income derived from the Old Spotted Dog is all COMMERCIAL use. We can find no evidence of any charitable use. Newham Community Leisure is supposed to be a charity.

Hackney Wick FC rent

Hackney Wick is a great community football club, and have rightly won awards and acclaim for their excellent outreach work, particularly in youth football and reaching out to prisoners and ex-offenders.

However, the Wickers – previously known as London Bari – have always kept quiet on their close relationship with Mr McBean. His behaviour seems very much at odds with Hackney Wick’s ethos.

The Wickers decline to say whether they pay their rent direct to Newham Community Leisure and now to the liquidator, or whether they hand it over to Mr McBean. It’s their right to keep quiet if they wish.

We just have to hope that the Wickers – who are doing so much admirable work – are doing the right thing here and ensuring this money goes to the liquidator, and insisting on correct paperwork and procedures.

The going rate for a Step 5 ground for a season is somewhere between £8,000 to £12,000, so since the Old Spotted Dog has been in liquidation, they would have paid roughly £20,000 for two seasons’ rent.

Vodafone payments

The patch of grass dug up by Vodafone can be viewed on the right of the picture

There is a Vodafone phone mast inside the Old Spotted Dog, right next to the Scaffold, for which the company pays an annual rent for the privilege

That fee – assumed to be in the thousands – would obviously go to the leaseholder, now the liquidator, rather than a club that merely rents the facility.

But that’s not all. In October, the pitch at the Old Spotted Dog was dug up to allow Vodafone to upgrade the mast.

In doing so, Clapton FC were forced to play three home games at a neutral venue, and others switched to away grounds, as the Old Spotted Dog was out of action.

Experts in the industry have told us the fee for such inconvenience would have been at least £5,000. Payable – again – to the charity and its liquidator, we hope.

Breakers’ yard rent

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Chose the wrong day to shoot The Old Spotted Dog ground, as no one was home but will definitely be back on a match day to document properly (hopefully my team plays them again in pre season 🤞). Amazing historic feel to the place as it is the oldest senior football ground in London. Here's a few snaps from outside. . . The Old Spotted Dog Ground 🏟️📷. . . Future home of @claptoncfc ⚽. . . Capacity: 2000 (100 seated)👥 Built: 1888 (year opened) 📅 . . . . #awaystand #groundhopper #groundhopping #football #stadium #footballground #whereisfootball #london #clapton #ultras #claptonfc #theoldspotteddog #chickenbaltichronicles #mainstand #nonleague #claptonultras #awaydays #huaweip20 #nationalleague #grassroots #ecofriendly #eastlondon #photography

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Part of the Old Spotted Dog, to the right of the picture above, is used as a car breakers’ yard, having previously been a tyre fitters among others.

This is the only part of the ground owned freehold by Newham Community Leisure. The rest of the Old Spotted Dog is owned by a Heineken subsidiary with a long lease to Newham Community Leisure.

We have no idea of the rent due on this, however the cheapest rent we can find for a small commercial yard in East London is £5.000 per year.

Helicopter landing site

Forest Gate residents were concerned when a private helicopter landed on the pitch last April.

Complaints were made since helicopters are not allowed to fly within 500 feet of a person, vehicle or structure.

There were strong suggestions that the helicopter belonged to someone going to a West Ham game, since it landed and departed around the right times.

The cheapest helicopter landing fee we can find in London is £250. Let’s hope that went to the liquidator.

Urban Outfitters

Model Chris Amfo recently posted pictures of himself on the Old Spotted Dog pitch.

It turns out it was a photoshoot for fashion designer Liam Hodges’ collaboration with retailer Urban Outfitters,

The shoot took place in late January, judging by the photos. Sources suggest the location fee for this would be around £1000.

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Sunday league with Liam Hodges

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Other games

The Old Spotted Dog is also rented out for occasional games by other teams. Here is an FA Sunday Cup tie taking place on it in October.

The standard fee is usually around £150 to £200 to hire a pitch.

Trevoh Chalobah filming

In late October, the ground was hired out by JD Sports for filming with Chelsea player Trevoh Chalobah, on loan with Ipswich.

That must have involved a four-figure payment winging its way to the liquidator.

Eid celebration

 

The local mosque hosts an Eid celebration on the pitch every year.

A great local community service you might think – except it is understood the mosque is charged £250 for just a few hours.

Again, that must be paid to the landlord, surely.

BBC3 filming

Mr McBean appearing on BBC3

Over the winter of 2018/19, BBC3 came to film at the Old Spotted Dog for a rather ill-thought out documentary on Ultras culture, glossing over the fact that the ground was empty and has seen no Ultras since April 2017.

Mr McBean was interviewed – and would obviously be entitled to a fee for his services. However, any location fee is surely separate and would have to go to the liquidator.

Festivals and parties

Judging by Instagram posts, there were at least private parties and/or music festivals held on the pitch over May Bank Holiday weekend and the other in June. We know no more than seeing photos of people sat drinking on the pitch.

Whatever the rental fee, it’s all good revenue for the liquidator – or at least we hope.

So where is the money going?

The revenue listed above is only what we are aware of. Some events we only know about having noticing activity in the Old Spotted Dog when walking past, or seeing social media posts.

As the capital’s oldest senior football ground. relatively close to central London, the Old Spotted Dog will always be popular as a location for photoshoots, film shoots and adverts.

We do not discourage anyone from using the Old Spotted Dog in such instances. However, please ensure that the fee gets paid to the leaseholder – currently the liquidator – and not the tenant, Mr McBean.

We have asked ST Bennett & Co to confirm that this commercial income is being received by them but have yet to receive a reply.

In the meantime we’re looking forward to seeing the next set of Newham Community Leisure accounts prepared by the liquidator, and seeing at least £40,000 income on there.

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WHY CLAPTON FC ARE PLAYING ITS NEXT ‘HOME’ GAME AWAY FROM THE OLD SPOTTED DOG

The new patch of grass can be viewed on the right of the picture

Essex Senior League side Clapton FC are set to play their first competitive home game away from the Old Spotted Dog in 15 years this weekend.

The Errington Challenge Cup game vs Enfield FC has been switched from the OSD to Aveley’s 3G pitch with a 11.30am kick off time.

The reason why is because the pitch needs time to recover after a new strip of turf was laid on one flank, in front of the famous Scaffold stand.

According to Peter Dudley on the Grassroots Football Show, the pitch was dug up by Vodafone. The company presumably carried out some work concerning the phone mast they have to the side of the Scaffold.

So is it a one-off? Dudley said on his radio show he felt it was “touch and go” whether the pitch would be ready for the next home game, on Tuesday.

Jason Maher, manager of Essex Senior League side Saffron Walden Town, felt it would take up to three weeks for the new turf to bed in. By that time, Clapton are scheduled to have played another five home games.

The action must have been carried out under the direction of the liquidator, ST Bennett & Co, which has been tasked with overseeing the Old Spotted Dog since March 2017.

The charity Newham Community Leisure, which used to run the facility, was placed into voluntary liquidation by Clapton FC chief exec Vince McBean and associates, because they wish to sell part of the ground. This process is being disputed in the High Court.

A spokesman for the Save The Old Spotted Dog community campaign said: “Any work at the Old Spotted Dog Ground must be carried out under the direction of the liquidator, using contractors appointed by him.

“Anything else strongly indicates that former trustee of the liquidated charity and now tenant Vince McBean remains in effective control of the ground.”

Fan groups connected to Clapton FC called a boycott of home games when Mr McBean, the club chief executive and former charity trustee, placed the charity in liquidation in March 2017, putting the future of London’s oldest senior football ground in grave peril.

The boycott has proved so watertight since that it’s understood there was just one paying customer at a recent home league game.

Campaigners argue that every penny handed over will help fund Mr McBean’s legal case as he attempts to seize control of the Old Spotted Dog lease in order sell off a portion of it,

A long-running High Court case rumbles on over this issue with a full trial not expected to take place until 2019.

Tons fans, life members and former committee members set up a team this summer under the name Clapton Community Football Club, and run entirely by members, as Clapton FC used to be.

Clapton CFC currently has just short of 1,000 members, playing its ‘home’ games at the newly-named Stray Dog in Walthamstow, with former Tons captain Geoff Ocran as player-manager.

Clapton FC spent much of 2002 and 2003 playing ‘home’ games at neutral venues, mostly at Aveley’s former ground but also Purfleet and Barking & East Ham United among others.

This was a few years into Mr McBean’s time at the club – he took over in 1999 – after the Isthmian League ordered ground repairs were needed that took a long time to be completed.

Clapton FC have a public policy of not answering our questions and have yet to respond to our last 20 requests for comment.

 

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.

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.