BATTLE OVER LIQUIDATION OF NEWHAM COMMUNITY LEISURE LIMITED REACHES THE HIGH COURT

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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

Last month we brought the worrying news that Newham Community Leisure Limited had applied for voluntary liquidation.

That is the charitable company which leases The Old Spotted Dog Ground from the brewery which owns the land, and allows Clapton FC to play there.

To recap: the trust appointed a liquidator, Stewart Bennett of Buckhurst Hill, on 1st March 2017 with the legal documents signed by Vincent McBean, who is also the Clapton FC chief executive, plus two other names.

The documents showed the trust owing £203,478 in long-term loans, £2,001 in accountancy fees, with the cost of liquidation estimated at £19,095.

Fans feared this liquidation would affect the club’s right to play at the Old Spotted Dog, its home since 1888, as well as that of fellow tenants London Bari.

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

For the time being, this means liquidator Stewart Bennett is unable to proceed with the liquidation. This is a temporary situation with the case due to either transfer to the Chancery Division of the High Court in the next two weeks or the injunction will be extended.

The campaign group has now raised over £7,500 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 liquidation affect Clapton’s ability to play at the Old Spotted Dog next season?

After all, clubs need to demonstrate to the Essex Senior League they have a secure tenancy on a suitable ground in order to compete. That seems under doubt when the lease-holder 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 the official website on April 1st said the team “will be playing at the Old Spotted Dog Stadium., the same venue we will be playing matches at for seasons to come.”

Meanwhile correspondence from an Essex Senior League official to a Clapton fan, which CFC News has seen, has also dismissed supporters’ concerns as ‘rumour’.

We’ll have to wait for the conclusion of the court hearing to see if that is the case.