Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Two Months to Save Clapton FC

In the past week or so there have been two prominent pieces of news from the Old Spotted Dog, and neither of them was surprising.

I initially welcomed the end of the Clapton Ultras’ boycott of home games as it signalled a ‘first’ at Clapton FC since the McBean regime took hold of the club; McBean couldn't have things all his own way.

The Ultras had managed to reach a compromise over the price rise, whilst achieving a number of small victories in getting McBean to reduce prices for student, refugees, jobless, youngsters and old chaps like me!  Couple this with spectators’ possessions not being unnecessarily rifled through by McBean's bouncers, and it's a good result.  Thank you lads and lassies of the Ultras!

But how did they manage this, after so many people have tried, and failed before?  One word, Money.

Since the arrival of the Ultras, McBean has become accustomed to pocketing huge amounts of cash though gate money.  Add to this the bar takings from those spectators who remain unaware, or possibly disinterested, in the ‘Clapton situation’ and he was doing very nicely indeed.  However, the boycott has seen those windfalls disintegrate and, doubtless, he was desperate to fill his pockets once again.  No one is quite aware of what other business interest he currently has.

It was therefore strange that, in those negotiations, he chose to position himself as a go-between for the supporters and the ‘Board’.  Now, when a ‘businessman’, who McBean purports to be, speaks of a Board, it can only mean one thing - a board of directors, and Directors indicate the existence of a Limited Company.

Whilst McBean operating his club as a limited company is a possibility, as far as I am aware, Clapton FC, in whatever guise, has never been registered as such with the football authorities.  If there has been a change of entity from the original club, then the FA, County FA and the Essex Senior League would have to have been made aware and would have to have given their approval.  The problem is that none of these ‘governing’ bodies is willing to disclose any information.

During the negotiations, McBean also produced John Jackson as a ‘trustee’ at one of the meetings with the Ultras delegation.  I have referred to Mr Jackson in my blog previously, and still have no idea what he claims to be a Trustee of, but I have seen emails in which he claims to have been made chair of Clapton FC by McBean in 2008, apparently without his actually realising it.  He also claimed that McBean once told him that Clapton FC does not exist. I therefore see very little reason to place any trust (sic) in Mr Jackson, who may be as much a fantasist as McBean himself.  I also wonder if McBean knows what his mate Jackson has claimed to have happened.  What is clear is that when the meeting with Ultras, Jackson was dishonestly passed off as something he is not.

So whilst I am delighted to be watching the team again, the way in which McBean has behaved only underlines what a manipulative and dishonest man he is.

The second piece of news involves an actual limited company, Clapton Football Club 1878 Limited, to which Clapton CF News, a supporters run news page, have referred in their web post of today (14.02.2017).  This company has now been notified that the Registrar of Companies proposes to strike them off because they have failed to file documents as required by law.

Therefore, if Clapton Football Club 1878 Ltd is ‘McBean’s Clapton FC’ then one of the most famous names in amateur football is likely to disappear because if McBean follows his usual modus operandi in managing companies, he will do nothing and the company will be struck off in a couple of months.

Interestingly, I have a copy of a recent Clapton FC letterhead and, there is no reference to a company number or the registered office, as is also required by law.

What is remarkable is that McBean, refers to this dubious and possibly non-existent board, on his own www.claptonfc.com website.

The fact is that Vince McBean has behaved dishonestly and disrespectfully to the Ultras, the supporters who fill his pockets by coming to matches.  This is not only in respect of the Company issue, but also by misrepresenting the club itself and the state of the negotiations which ended up extending the boycott.

Whilst I am delighted to get back and watch this very impressive tam complete the season, Clapton supporters must now decide whether McBean is a person who can be trusted to run our club.

It is clearly apparent is that McBean operates all of his ‘visible’ business autonomously. He consistently puts up family, old friends and associates as his ‘colleagues’.  Have any of the supporters ever met, or seen, the supposed Chairman, Secretary or Treasurer of McBean’s club?

Despite the Ultras’ achievement in bringing McBean to the table, even then, the ‘self styled CEO’ couldn’t help by acting dishonestly during the boycott, even though it was very much in his interest to arrive at a settlement.  In the words of the Ultras themselves, We’ve just been given a hard lesson in messing about, delaying and rearranging the furniture over what had already been agreed. 

Couple that with the news that the Charity that holds the lease on the Old Spotted Dog, which he took over from the former regime, is now under investigation by the Commissioner for Charities, their bank account frozen, and under pressure to file documents with Companies House and its ridiculous that McBean continues to operate.  McBean cannot be trusted with the ground, the club. It’s about time something was done.

The real Clapton FC which was founded by supporters and life members of the club.  I have heard many people asking what this group are doing to oust McBean.  But dealing with a specious fabricator of the truth, like McBean, is always difficult, as the Ultras have discovered.  However, I am aware that they have played no small part in unsettling McBean and exposing his activities, not least with regard to the ground, breaches of the lease and, what would appear to be, a very dodgy ground share and rental agreements with London Bari and the Tyre Warehouse next door.

FELLOW CLAPTON SUPPORTERS  -  Time is now very much of the essence, because if Clapton Football Club 1878 Limited is the legal entity of Clapton FC, then we have two months in which to save it.  If it’s not the ‘club’, then its purpose is/has clearly been to defraud some poor sod, as it is £20k in debt according to the last accounts.

I ask you to help remove McBean and save Clapton FC.  Join the real Clapton FC.  Their website is www.claptonfc.info and there is a link to the membership application form.

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.

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