Football club agrees to pay rent it owes to ground landlord

GOSPORT Borough Football Club has come up with a payment plan to settle a rent bill to its landlord.

Wednesday, 16th August 2017, 6:55 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:38 am
Gosport Borough Football Club's Privett Park ground

The club is understood to be eight months behind in the rent of Privett Park, which is owned by Gosport Borough Council.

In what the club described as ‘a constructive meeting’, the plan is understood to have been set up, so that the arrears could be caught up on.

But on August 10 the club received another winding-up order from HMRC – the fifth in the past 12 months.

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In an email exchange shown to The News, deputy chief executive and borough solicitor Michael Lawther told Cllr Peter Chegwyn that ‘The council is in a position to be able to take enforcement action in respect of the arrears, which could include legal action to forfeit the lease.’

Cllr Chegwyn believes that the repayment plan won’t be enough.

He said: ‘I have heard that the club’s total debt is over £150,000, which is a staggering amount for a football club of that size.

‘I think that it is a shame for the club to fall to its knees, but if the new chairman is trying to get things back to where they should be, then fair play to him.’

Cllr Chegwyn is calling for an independent inquiry into the club’s bank accounts.

He said: ‘I think that there needs to be an inquiry – independent of Gosport Borough Council – into the financial goings on between the council and the football club. I feel that Cllr Mark Hook has a lot to answer for.’

Cllr Hook stood down as club chairman on May 25 and from the board of directors last month.

In a club statement at the time, it was announced that he would be offering his support as the club moves forward.

The club’s new chairman, Iain Sellstrom, says that he wants to arrange repayments for all of the club’s debts – with repayments for the council at the top of the priority list.

He said: ‘I wasn’t at the meeting myself as I had not taken over at the football club at that time.

‘I’m also planning to have a meeting with them myself in the near future.

‘I can confirm that there is now a repayment agreement in place between the football club and the council.

‘At this time I cannot say how long the repayment process will take because we need to pay back all of our creditors.

‘However, I can say that as far as I am concerned, we have to pay it all back as soon as possible.

‘We have to work within the means of the club, but we will have a payment plan for all our creditors within the next couple of weeks.’

In a statement, Mr Lawther said: ‘We had a constructive meeting with the club on how they will repay their outstanding debts. They put forward a proposal, which our chief financial officer is now considering.’