St Helens Town was approached a few weeks before the end of the 2017-18 season by a business duo looking to get involved with the club – maybe with a view to sponsorship or investment.
Informal discussions took place and some very generous offers of financial support were made by Tim Bevington (@TJBevington1971, Bevington Holdings Ltd) and his partner Victoria Cobain; the two, along with their family, became regulars at games in the last few weeks of the campaign.
They, according to social media and our on-going discussions, were involved in a number of new start-up businesses including Puggy’s American Diner (@PuggysDiner, @Puggys_News, @PuggyAdventures) and Vittima, Italian Restaurant (@Vittima1talia @Vittimaitalian) which were due to open this summer in the Aintree area of Liverpool.
As you can imagine the club was delighted with the approach but cautious at what it might mean going forward. These were seemingly sincere people who had an interest in our club! While genuinely wanting to believe this was a potential ‘big win’ for Town there were mixed opinions throughout the club and questions we posed – ‘Is it real?’, ‘What do they want from us?’ etc.
The club made contact with the Football Association and because of the amounts of money being discussed we were asked to undertake the process of 'Due Diligence' – Tim Bevington told club officials he had won the Lottery six years ago, even showing the club banking details which supported his claims. The club had to complete independent work which would ascertain the proof of funds and how those funds had been generated; thereby avoiding concerns around ‘money laundering’, ‘proceeds of crime’, etc.
Many of our discussions were about their investment in the club along with many of their other business activities and social media seemed to back this up – recently recruiting an administration team and staff for the restaurants via Crosby Job Centre and with the help of a recruitment consultant.
Needless to say, the club, along with lots of other people, have been caught up in a very elaborate story which appears to have no real purpose other than to inflate the self-esteem of the two people involved. From the club’s perspective we have lost nothing with the exception of time and effort – although having told our U18s staff and players that Puggy’s American Diner would sponsor new tracksuits for their Cup final the monies failed to materialise despite claims it had been bank transferred to the supplier. Just one of the recent events which involved money not arriving!
We have been made aware that staff taken on through their restaurant recruitment process, along with the recruitment consultant have subsequently been left unpaid leaving a trail of financial hardship. The elaborate nature of this scam seems to have included telling people they own/lease buildings (70 Walton Vale) and businesses (One Melling Road) with the intention of opening restaurants – engaging with the estate agents and owners of these buildings without ever following through on the purchase/lease agreement. We have been made aware of attempts by them to purchase cars from a local dealership – placing orders they have subsequently been unable to finance.
We are aware of ongoing discussions between the pair as Bevington Holdings Ltd and St Helens College about the purchase of their Bobbies Lane Sports complex and likewise with the owners of The Drummersfield Barn at Bryn, currently the home of Affecto Football Academy (@AffectoFootball) which provides playing and accommodation facilities for young players.
St Helens Town AFC have written to Tim Bevington and Victoria Cobain to inform them of our findings and that we no longer wish to have any involvement with them. We have asked them to desist from using the club’s name and any associated details when engaging with others and from their claims to be the club’s new owners, new Chairman, etc.
We have not taken lightly the decision to ‘go public’ with this information. We are aware that Tim Bevington and Victoria Cobain are in contact with at least one other team locally and numerous other businesses who, as a minimum, may have their time and efforts wasted.
Thankfully the advice of the Football Association and the work of members of our own committee have served us well on this occasion. It is not to say there are not genuine investors ‘out there’ and St Helens Town has benefitted greatly from many, many sponsors over a long period of time. We are hopeful that our reputation remains intact and would ask any individuals and businesses who have crossed paths with Tim Bevington and Victoria Cobain, especially where St Helens Town have been mentioned to get in touch.
On behalf of St Helens Town AFC
07713 339 682
Updated 21:47 - 18 Aug 2018 by John McKiernan