08:00 Friday 27 December 2013

Club faces uncertain future due to debts

Written byROB SMYTH

AN HISTORIC South Derbyshire football club is facing an uncertain future as it struggles pay off debts.

Newhall United, formed in 1926, could be forced to sell its Hawfields home to pay £7,500 to Carlsberg UK for a loan dating back 10 years.

The Blues, who were once a rival for Gresley Rovers, have been unable to keep up with a mutually agreed pay deal agreed with the brewing giant and now fear for its future.

A High Court hearing is due on January 7 to rule on whether the Hawfields must be possessed and sold by the club’s creditors.

“We do have a deal in place with Carlsberg but we just cannot manage to keep paying the monthly amount.

“The agreement is for around £150 but we cannot even manage this as times ate so tough - we are hoping to hold talks with Carlsberg and, if not, will have to see what happens with the court date,” said manager Johnny Smith, who is now running the club with just the support of secretary Dan Bishop while chairman Bob Corner recovers from illness.

“If I was a judge I wouldn’t force a club to sell their land to pay something like this.”

Newhall, who play in the Midlands Regional Alliance, have been seeking a move away from the Hawfields for years. A move would allow them to find a better playing surface - their current ground is notorious for waterlogging - as well as better off-pitch facilities.

But before they sell their ground, they will need to find another home, preferably in or near Newhall to maintain local links and avoid a situation where they could be homeless.

“Our land was valued at around £1.2 million,” said Smith. “This had been running for years, right back to when I was a player. We’re a football club trying to get young people involved.”

Smith had himself been paying the debt out of his own pocket but has ceased payments to force a solution to a problem started when the club borrowed the money the past.

A spokesman for Carlsberg said: “We generally cannot comment on legal matters, but in this instance, I can advise that we have accepted a mutually agreed payment plan for settlement of the loan.”

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