We thought we should write and bring you up to speed with some of the things that have been happening at the ground since our arrival as property managers. Much of the first few months of our stewardship of the site has been spent resolving longstanding financial issues with the authority of Dulwich Hamlet Football Club Limited, and then, in turn, installing processes which will stop these same (or similar) issues from rearing their heads again. Going through these in any detail would take the rest of the day, but some of them which you may be interested in are below:
- Debts: Payment of the outstanding invoices, and dealing with the historical debts. We’ve had some sizeable invoices to contend with (both utilities and otherwise), and these continued to rear their heads for some time after the date on which we first became involved in the site. Upwards of £50k has paid out for historical debts to date, without even considering the existing rental of the ground itself which is massively in arrears. We’re slowly getting a handle on the finances, and the regular visits from bailiffs to the property have now stopped. Sorting this has been a full-time job, but slowly and surely the finances are getting close to being turned around.
- Car wash: One of the reasons that there was such a huge historical utilities debt was due to the fact that the club was paying for the energy used by a car-wash on the adjoining car park. The existing deal made no financial sense for Dulwich Hamlet Football Club Limited whatsoever, and has caused significant financial strain. In the short-term, we’d like to apologise for the lack of a club car park too; this has been an offshoot of this problem, and it’s something we’re keen to resolve as soon as possible. However, the landowners are now in litigation with the car wash operator so there may not be any good progress for a little while yet.
- Car boot sale: It also seemed sensible to stop the Sunday car boot sale, which had caused considerable inconvenience, through traffic and rubbish, to our neighbours on St Francis Estate.
- Astroturf: The car boot sale also contributed significantly to the disrepair of the training Astroturf at the back of the stadium. Cars were frequently parked on the turf itself. Some repairs have just been commissioned in order to bring it up to the standard required for its actual purpose and to comply with the obligations of Dulwich Hamlet FC Ltd under its lease of the training grounds from the London Borough of Southwark. These should be taking place in the next week or two.
- Club bar: We’ve also had to take steps to deal with the threat of the bar’s imminent closure. Previous mismanagement had meant that one of the first tasks was to attend a licensing committee, whose purpose it was to judge whether the club’s bar was even fit to continue serving alcohol. We have had to make several changes to the operation, including an immediate stop on the late-night parties, which had deservedly damaged our reputation with our neighbours. The track record of Hadley’s management in running high-class venues in London was an important factor in preventing the loss of the licence.
- Improved security: In line with the above, we’ve also commissioned extensive works on the CCTV on the site, the alarm system and the security around the building.
- New Licence Agreement: The owner of Champion Hill Stadium has removed the uncertainty surrounding the occupation of the stadium and facilities by Dulwich Hamlet F.C Ltd by granting a new licence,.
- Fisher FC: As a lot of you will have seen, Dulwich Hamlet Football Club Limited has entered into a ground-sharing agreement with Fisher FC so that club can continue using the Champion Hill Stadium while their own stadium is finished. A low fee is being charged, which just about covers overheads – the last thing that anyone wanted was to see Fisher FC in trouble when they’re so close to completing their move..
- Refreshments: The refreshment arrangements on site have also been replaced. Apologies for any teething problems, but, hopefully, things have now settled down and you all find the food to your tastes! There wasn’t really any revenue for Dulwich Hamlet F.C Ltd in the existing agreement, and so a change of personnel and some improved terms seemed the best step forwards.
- Health Club: This is also the case with the gym facilities, which should be changing hands in the very near future. Hopefully, those of you who use the health club will see an improvement in the customer service, the classes and the facilities in general. Dulwich Hamlet F.C Ltd will then be receiving a contribution to the overall running costs of the site.
- Play facilities: Talks with a few companies about the installation of a sensory and soft-play facility downstairs in the club have been held. There’s a lot of space not being used on the site and, as well as bringing in some additional revenue for Dulwich Hamlet FC Ltd, it can continue with some of the community-based activities (which unfortunately haven’t been mentioned in recent times)!
- Workfare: Following on from that point in particular, Dulwich Hamlet FC Ltd has also put a stop to the existing Workfare agreements which took place on site. This programme is unsuitable in the present circumstances.
As mentioned at the start of this note, it could go on for some time – but you, as fans, aren’t necessarily interested in all the business detail.
However, if you do want to raise anything or have any questions, please email email@example.com and every effort will be made to keep you updated with what’s happening.
Thanks a lot for your patience whilst all this has been going on. We’d also like to extend sincere thanks to the volunteers on the football committee, who have been doing a great job holding the ship steady during some troubled times; and of course, to the supporters for bearing with us through undoubted teething problems. It’d be much harder for us to get hold of things here at the club without the noise that comes down from the stands, and from behind the goal - the most colourful rabble around.
Matt Rimmer, on behalf of The Hadley Group