Chairman John Murray-Smith is the latest departure from Clapton – but a replacement is due to be unveiled soon, we can reveal.
The chairman’s exit follows on from a string of departures in recent months: of fans’ groups to Clapton CFC; the last youth team quitting to join Hackney Wick; and legendary player Jerry Jairette, forced out after 10 years during his testimonial year.
Mr Murray-Smith’s replacement comes from YouTube football team United London, which has folded after two seasons. Its chairman Mark North is now lined up to become Vince McBean’s right-hand man.
United London had billed itself as ‘the world’s first managerless football club’ with users invited to download an app to select the team.
It had competed in the Essex Alliance Premier, Step 12 of the football pyramid, with home games played on the 3G pitch at Frances Bardsley Academy girls’ school in Romford.
The day after the announcement, the defunct club’s chairman Mark North, 39, responded to Twitter rumours that he would join Mr McBean’s team by admitting he would be unveiled ‘very soon’.
United London had been elected to the Essex Olympian League, and placed in Division 3, which is Step 10, this summer.
Their withdrawal leaves the division with just 11 clubs for the 2018/9 season.
Mr North will now join Mr McBean at Step 5 football.
Mr Murray-Smith is still listed as chairman on Mr McBean’s website but was described in passing in a statement on June 22 as the ‘ex-chairman.’
Sources suggest Mr Murray-Smith, who runs an insurance company, was chairman in little more than on paper. He did not attend games and there are no references to him in Google or on Mr McBean’s website except for the fact he held the post.
Mr North is expected to be more involved and told us: “I left United London to take up this post as I believe that the club has so much untapped potential and an iconic status in non-league.
“I’m here to work hard and give my free time like all the volunteers to help the club progress.
“I do not come into this club with a negative mindset, only focusing on the positive work that can and will be done over the coming months and years.”
When asked about specific issues over the management of the club and the Old Spotted Dog ground, which is currently in liquidation ahead of a High Court case, Mr North gave a more general reply.
He said: “I’m not blind to the previous issues and all know that there is a lot of work to do both on and off the field, however my sole focus is to look ahead to the future.”
We asked him how he would become chairman since Clapton Members Club has been ‘closed for restructuring’ since 2013, and its rules state you need to be a member to be elected chair. Does this mean membership has now reopened? Mr North declined to comment.
We also approached Mr McBean for comment. However, readers will be aware the club has a long-standing policy of not responding to us. In fact we have not had the courtesy of even acknowledgement to over 20 requests for comment in the last year.