NEWHAM COMMUNITY LEISURE LIMITED FILES FOR VOLUNTARY LIQUIDATION

After reporting last month that Clapton Football Club 1878 Limited had failed to file its Confirmation Statement and was being threatened with being struck off, we can now reveal, in extremely worrying news for Clapton fans, that Newham Community Leisure Limited, the company and charity which holds the lease on The Old Spotted Dog Ground, has applied for voluntary liquidation.

In documents published by Companies House it is shown that the members of the trust entered voluntary liquidation and appointed a liquidator, Stewart Bennett, on 1st March 2017. The document is signed by Vincent McBean, Ransford Taylor and Trevor Gordon, who are listed as being the majority of the trustees of Newham Community Leisure Limited.

The documents also show that the trust owes £203,478 in ‘Long Term Loans’, as well as £2,001 in accountancy fees. The cost of liquidation until the payment of debts in full is estimated at £19,095.

At the moment it is unclear how this will affect Clapton FC. In the short-term it is understood that before the 31st March, the club have to provide the Essex Senior League and the FA with proof of their being able to play at the Old Spotted Dog for the entirety of next season. As the insolvency process can take some months, it is unknown how this could be provided. This may also affect London Bari FC who also play at the Dog.

The trust was set up in 1992 as Clapton Trust Limited before changing its name a year later to Newham Community Leisure Trust Limited. In January 1995, the then Directors of the trust negotiated a 99-year lease with the freeholder Grand Metropolitan Estates, securing the land for use as a sports ground.

It was struck off in 2003 after failing to file accounts, before being restored by Vince McBean in 2009. It appears from documents filed at this time that McBean attempted to transfer the lease from the trust, however it seems he was unable to do so. Since then the trust has regularly failed to file its Annual Return on time and has been threatened with being struck off twice. According to Companies House, the most recent Confirmation Statement (the newer form of the Annual Return) was due by 18th February 2017 and is currently overdue.

Clapton FC News understands that Real Clapton FC are in contact with the Charity Commission and the Liquidator in an attempt to safeguard the future of the ground. You can become a member of the club here and/or donate to their Supporters’ Action fund here.

NOTICE GIVEN FOR COMPULSORY STRIKE-OFF OF CLAPTON FOOTBALL CLUB 1878 LIMITED

application-pdf

In worrying news for Tons fans, Clapton FC News has discovered that Companies House have given notice for compulsory strike-off of Clapton Football Club 1878 Limited (company number 08769591) – the company it is thought runs Clapton FC.

If it were to go ahead, it would be at least the third time a limited company run by Vincent Joseph McBean in connection with the club has been dissolved after Clapton Football Club Limited (07291485) in January 2012, and Clapton Football Club Limited (08011511) in November 2013, both companies having failed to file any accounts.

The latest accounts for Clapton Football Club 1878 Limited filed with Companies House in September 2016 are up until 31st December 2015 and show the club being £19,455 in the red, the debt having grown from £6,854 the year before – despite The Tons enjoying ever increasing attendances during this time. Published attendance figures show that 6,419 people passed through the turnstile at the Old Spotted Dog in 2015.

The notice published on the Companies House website and reproduced above reads as follows:

THE DIRECTORS
CLAPTON FOOTBALL CLUB 1878 LIMITED
29 YORK ROAD
FOREST GATE
LONDON
E7 9HT

Date: 14/02/2017
Ref: DEF6/08769591

Companies Act 2006 (Section 1000(3))

The Registrar of Companies gives notice that, unless cause is shown the the contrary, at the expiration of 2 months from the above date the name of

CLAPTON FOOTBALL CLUB 1878 LIMITED

will be struck off the register and the company will be dissolved.

Upon dissolution all property and rights vested in, or held in trust for, the company are deemed to be bona vacantia, and accordingly will belong to the crown.

The Company Directors of Clapton Football Club 1878 Limited are listed as Vincent Joseph McBean and Jaydene McBean-Willis. Esmond Syfox is listed as the Company Secretary. The is not the first time the company has been threatened with being struck off for failing to file accounts – notice was also served in November 2015 but was discontinued.

In 2013, the three life members of the original Clapton FC re-established what they consider the ‘real club’ – you can find more information on them and become a member here.

Update: It appears that Clapton Football Club 1878 Limited has filed its Confirmation Statement today, 15th February 2017, thus the strike-off action has been discontinued. According to the GOV.UK guidance on Confirmation Statements, it is a criminal offence to file this document more than 14 days after the review period (in this case 11th November 2016), so the company and its officers could be prosecuted.

VINCE MCBEAN BLAMES FANS FOR LACK OF PROMOTION BID

Speaking in Newham Recorder last week, Clapton FC Chief Executive, Vince McBean aimed both barrels at Tons supporters, blaming them for the club not being favoured for promotion to the Ryman North last season. Following an angry response from fans after bouncers suddenly appeared at turnstiles and an unannounced rise in price of entry to the ground, McBean lashed out in the local press, saying it is the Clapton Ultras that’s holding the club back.

Citing stickers put in the toilets at away grounds in the ESL, Vince offered that the club was being frozen out from a promotion bid by a committee made up of disgruntled chairmen from opposing clubs. And the stickers are to blame. However, anyone who has taken a cursory inspection around Clapton’s Old Spotted Dog lately may question how far the club would have to upgrade before realistic talk of an Isthmian push would even be considered.

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‘Footy Ultras’ sticker outside the Old Spotted Dog

Perhaps higher in the priorities of fellow ESL clubs is the condition of the facilities at Clapton. Complaints of a lack of hot water in the away dressing room and even leaking sewage have dogged Vince over recent seasons. Although hot water isn’t explicitly referenced in the FA’s National Ground Grading – Category E, the first sentence of the guidelines states “The ground must give an overall appearance and impression of being a football ground suitable for the National League System”. Adequate changing facilities would presumably fall under this header.

More direct rules of what constitutes an adequate Step 4 ground also has The Old Dog at a clear disadvantage. While the club has installed outdoor toilet facilities in compliance with FA regulations, relieving the overwhelmed pair of urinals in the clubhouse, work simply never began in other areas. Extending the seated stand (2.1) to the required minimum of 150 never got beyond the pile of discarded plastic chairs stacked by the entrance. The problem of “Adequate car parking at or adjacent to the ground” (1.6) could prove even trickier to resolve.

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A job-lot of broken urinals dumped behind one of the stands at The Spotted Dog

Other areas of improvement needed, such as paved walkways, fully accessible toilets, secure dugouts and risk assessed perimeter barriers all cost money, but should be within Clapton’s budget. The Newham Recorder reported a figure of £40,000 coming into the club through gate receipts alone last season which could’ve potentially helped to rush through these works before the March 31st deadline. Although soil has yet to be broken on any these projects so far.

Of course applying to the Ryman would also require submitting a Financial Reporting Initiative form, including full disclosure of all creditors and an approved set of audited accounts. According to Company Check, Clapton Football Club 1878 Limited reported a debt of £19,639.00 in 2015, a loss of £12,477.00 from the previous year, while declaring just £184 in total assets. The average attendance for season 2014/15 was 246.

Rumours were abound on Saturday that top of the league, Barking had chosen not to apply for promotion this season, giving brief hope of an easier route to Step 4 for the chasing pack. However, the gossip was immediately laughed off by Blues press officer, Trevor Gilbert, saying that although it had given everyone a ‘giggle’ their application would be submitted by the end of the month.

Thankfully for Barking (and Clapton), there is nothing in either the ESL handbook or the Regulations for the Operations for the National League System that says league counterparts can block or veto another club’s bid for promotion. The application is made between club and the Football Association only, avoiding an obvious conflict of interest. The deadline for submission is the 30th November 2016.