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Ashford Town face uncertain future PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

ASHFORD TOWN are now the latest Kent football club to face an uncertain future - as a boardroom split and an unpaid tax bill of £100,000 - has resulted in the administrators being called in.

In a statement, issued on the club’s official website, www.ashfordtownfc.co.uk at 6pm, Chairman Mr Don Crosbie has called on fellow owner Tony Betteridge to reveal his intentions, with the Ryman League Division One South club at a crucial crossroads off-the-pitch.

“I’ve been agonising what to write for a long time because the last thing I want is for you to feel that I am letting you down,” Mr Crosbie told supporters’ tonight.

“With this in mind, I have worked hard behind the scenes trying to sort things out so that this club can push forward.

“In life I have dealt with many problems but this current one looks beyond repair and sadly I cannot seem to do anything about it - despite my best efforts.

“As most people at the club know, I have personally been responsible for a number of bills; both leading up to and during this current season. I paid for the ground repairs and pitch improvements leading up to the new season.

“I have also been responsible for the wages and bills for the club since early October. This has proved a heavy burden to me personally and it is becoming increasingly clear that I am doing things on my own.

“From a football perspective, I seem to be the only person interested in keeping things going. Unfortunately my co-owner, Tony Betteridge, isn’t interested in the football side but is only concerned in the interests of the ground and the redevelopment of the real estate.

“He is looking at things commercially and this is completely different to my ideas and the original agreement for me to allow him into this project and the ideas of our loyal supporters.

“We didn’t purchase the football club because of its development potential, we purchased it because we could see the community expansion and wanted to drive things forward; both on and off the pitch.

“Sadly things only move forward if everyone is united and that is no longer the case. When Tony and I took over, we provided a sustainable plan and wanted to push things forward to a level that this football club has never experienced.

“Clearly, though, we have now reached an impasse and I have to burden the responsibility of the wages and outgoings; this is clearly not fair. Tony has thwarted the planning application for the Homelands Sports Village and this has weighed heavily on both the club and me.

“During my time in charge, I have given my all and paid every bill that I can. The thing that annoys me is the debts from the past that keep cropping up.

“I was shocked to learn that HM Revenue and Customs had not had P35s submitted since 2004. Although I have managed to recreate the wages records, it reveals that the Tax and National Insurance underpayments during the three years prior to our arrival are nearly £50,000 and with the potential for the Crown claiming penalties and interest, this will double to £100,000!

“We are in a similar predicament to Folkestone Invicta; the only difference is we knew nothing about this and it is, clearly, not our fault after paying hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of old debts and liabilities not of our making.

“The previous Directors left us in this difficult situation and I am now being forced to try and deal with it because Tony doesn’t want to assist or put any more money in.

“He has met with our Accountants and wishes for the club to go into receivership. Therefore I fail to see how I can fight this on my own. Tony and I are joint partners so it seems most unfair on me to have to shoulder sole responsibility.

“The agreement when we started was for Tony to be the main financial investor. I appreciate that he has suffered heavy financial losses over the last year but my main concern is for the future of Ashford Town Football Club.

“I have tried to offer him his investments back - together with sizeable interest - as a means of escape. I think this is fair but Tony is insisting on an exorbitant figure to purchase his 50% shareholding.

“This is totally unfair on the football club. Therefore the only way forward for us is to appoint an Administrator to mediate the cause of our great football club.

“This will do a number of things; namely dispel any personalities and the needs or wants of any individuals. It will also eliminate all uncovered debts - which keep coming out of the woodwork - and give us a new start. If this happens then it will safeguard Ashford Town’s future.

“From a playing perspective (manager) Steve Lovell has had to endure the off the field problems and has had to keep the morale of the team as high as he can but they are not stupid and know that I have been very unhappy with the situation for some time.

“This has impacted on our performance over the last six weeks and I can only feel for Steve and the players.

"I want to end by reaffirming my commitment to the cause. I care passionately about our great club.

"I am still totally committed and will continue to offer Tony a way out because this is the only way the club will progress.

“If, as he says, he has the interests of the football club at heart then I am sure that he will accept my proposal.

“However if he wishes to profiteer with his investment for commercial reasons then this will be a sad day for the football club.”

Visit Ashford Town’s website: www.ashfordtownfc.co.uk

Walton & Hersham v Ashford Town
Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 28th March 2009
Kick Off 3:00pm
At Stompond Lane, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, KT12 1HF

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 25 March 2009 )
 
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