The ‘official’ club web site and twitter feed has recently announced a day in which supporters and the community are invited to come along to the Old Spotted Dog and clean it up, ready for the new season.
Normally, this would be a good use of supporters time but, before you pack yourself off to enjoy the banter and BBQ on offer, consider this.
The clean up is not the responsibility of Clapton FC, it’s fans or even the community. The club itself merely holds a licence to occupy the ground on Saturdays and Tuesdays.
The responsibility for the ground lies with the private lease holding company, Newham Community Leisure Trust Limited. This company have held the 99 year lease since 1992.
Over the years, the members of the company, which was a charitable Trust, have come and gone and subsequently the control of the Trust fell into the hands of Vincent McBean, and his group of associates, who seem to follow him around in his business and ‘charitable’ ventures
The responsibility for cleaning up the ground, the fences, the upkeep of dressing rooms etc lies solely with Mr McBean’s company. One might presume that as Newham Community Leisure Trust Limited, are the recipients of pitch rentals, ground share agreements, the rental for the Vodaphone mast, the rent from the Tyre Warehouse (the freehold of which is owned by the Trust) etc and therefore could well afford the cost of regular upkeep of the ground.
However there are two current complaints which are being investigated by the Charity Commissioners in respect of the activities of the Newham Community Leisure Trust Limited.
Thus, having failed in their responsibility to up keep the ground to an acceptable standard. the Trust, under the guise of ‘Clean Up At Clapton” are asking for help in covering up their failings.
It may be more appropriate, given the current investigations, to rename the day ‘Clean Up For Vince’.
One should be aware that Clapton FC and the Newham Community Leisure Trust are two separate entities and to be involved in both can create a conflict of interest. Mr McBean was informed of this by the Charity Commissioner in 2002 and has since ignored their advice.
Nonetheless, Mr McBean has significant experience with the Charity Commissioners as he previously ran two other charities, Knights Millennium Foyer Limited (as director and then Chief Executive) and Knights Institute of Sports. He was a signatory on the successful application by the former, for a grant of £2 million from the Millennium Commission and that, is another story upon which I will elaborate shortly.
He is also the Chair of at least one other charity.
For my part, if I can tear myself away from my family and the obligations of a summer Saturday, I shall be going to Crockenhill to support the team.
The ‘banter, music and BBQ can keep.