Sunday, 23 September 2018

Council set to bail out football club

Council set to bail out football club

HENLEY Town Football Club is set to be loaned £22,000 by the town council.

The money would be used to pay for maintenance of the club’s Triangle Ground in Mill Lane, new equipment, refurbishing the clubhouse kitchen and bar and improving the changing rooms and toilets.

The club was more than £22,000 in debt in December and was forced to pull its first team out of the Hellenic League because it could no longer afford it.

Since then the debt has been reduced by more than 50 per cent under the direction of a new board, which has no plans to
re-enter the league in the short-term and is focusing on the reserves and Sunday team, which comprise mainly local players.

Club chairman John Hooper, who is also life president of AFC Henley, told a meeting of the council’s finance strategy and management committee: “We hope for the council’s support and help in keeping the club going.

“The debt has reduced because we have local people involved who let the facility for parties, christenings and wakes. The venue has become more popular as more people know about us.”

The work will cost about £44,000 but the club will reduce this by up to £13,000 by using tradesmen who are members and will provide the cost of labour in kind. The club will contribute another £3,000 and apply for grants.

The club says it wants to attract local players and will work with AFC Henley to set up an academy to help get youngsters into adult football.

Ken Arlett, who chairs the committee, said: “What was taking place at the club with the Hellenic League in recent years was horrendous. Year after year they were running out of money like the blind leading the blind.

“They were paying players coming from here, there and everywhere. Some of the players were mercenaries, being paid and then the money would run out and they would go.

“It’s a pleasure to see local people going back into Henley Town Football Club. These people have come in and turned the club around.”

Councillor Julian Brookes said: “The new management of the club is the key for me. These are people who know how to run a club. They are clearly generating cash and paying off their suppliers.”

Henley Mayor Kellie Hinton said: “I support this but would like to see more young people using the club because it’s a great facility. Someone approached me about starting a youth club and maybe this could be used as a venue.”

The committee unanimously agreed to recommend the loan is approved and this is expected to be approved at a full council meeting on Tuesday. If it is, the club would pay back a total of £27,532 over five years.

Meanwhile, the committee approved grants of more than £4,300 for charities and community groups.

Henley Town and Visitors’ Regatta will receive £1,000, which will go towards umpire launches for the event on August 4 and marketing.

The Henley Drama Festival will receive £900, which will go towards running costs at theannual event which has been held at the Kenton Theatre since 1971.

Oxfordshire Association for the Blind will receive £800 to support its 91 users in the town with information, specialist counselling, social support, technology training and support for carers.

Home Start Southern Oxfordshire will receive £500 to support four volunteers in Henley who help people with young families who are finding it stressful.

The Henley-Borama Friendship Association will receive £200 to run anevent in Mill Meadows on July 14 featuring singing, dancing and an information display about the link between Henley and the Somalian town.

Henley Wildlife Group and Henley in Transition were allocated £149.72 and £125 respectively to cover insurance costs.

AFC Henley will be given free use of the main hall at the town hall for 51 volunteer coaches and staff to be trained in how to use a defibrillator. This is worth £44.

The grants will have to be confirmed by the full council on Tuesday when it will also consider applications for £2,500 by the Thames Traditional Boat Festival and the Henley Summer Fireworks.

The committee recommended that an application by Aston Productions for £2,500 was referred to the Henley Educational Trust. Jo Southwell, who runs the company, is seeking backing for a short film which will be shot in the town.

The committee turned down an application by the Friends of Trinity School for £1,000 towards the costs of a black tie dinner event at Henley Rugby Club next month which will be raising money for the school.

However, Mayor Kellie Hinton offered to contact the club to see if her one free use of the clubhouse as a member, through her position as Mayor, could be used to reduce the cost of hire.

Oxfordshire Volunter Befriending Service’s application for £1,000 was turned down.

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