By virtue of a telephone call received by our Club Secretary from the FAW on Wednesday last, the 22nd May 2019 it was confirmed that the Club’s application for a Tier 2 licence has been rejected. At the time of placing this statement we have yet to receive the required written confirmation which we understand will be forthcoming.
By way of chronology we as a Club think it is important to set out exactly what has transpired in relation to this application so that it is transparent not only for the Club and its members but also for those who seek clarification regarding our status.
The Club has always been set up as an unincorporated association with Trustees appointed to deal with the day to day running of the institution. The Landlords of the Victoria Road Ground are the local unitary authority, namely Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council who insist in the strict compliance of the covenants and conditions contained in the 25 year lease afforded to the Club itself.
Following a particularly successful period on the playing field the Club was promoted to the Welsh Premier League which of course is the highest division in the Welsh football pyramid system. At that juncture the football section within the Club itself operated on an autonomous basis with the consent of the Trustees.
It transpires that in or around 2008 the football section, following discussions with the FAW created a Limited Company by Guarantee and registered the same at Companies House.
The setting up of this company was undertaken without the consent or knowledge of the Trustees and certainly without the permission of the Landlords, namely The Local Authority.
It is fair to say that the Limited Company by Guarantee has had a very troubled existence and on numerous occasions between 2013-2016 have sought financial assistance from the Club to stave off insolvency and liquidation. It should be made perfectly plain that if the Trustees and/or Local Authority were consulted at the time the company was incepted, they would have, without question, refused permission.
Following on from the company’s inception, a number of Directors have been appointed and have subsequently resigned, many of whom have little or no affiliation with the Club itself. By November 2018 only one such original Director was left on the company’s register. That person residing for the most part out of the jurisdiction, in Thailand. As part of any company’s responsibility there is a duty to file regular Annual Accounts at Companies House. It is clear from the information now received that accounts dating back to 2015 were not filed and as a consequence Companies House dissolved that Limited Company by Guarantee and removed it from the register. It should also be made perfectly plain that all forms of notification of these matters were in fact being sent to the Director identified at Companies House and therefore the ongoing requirements were not made known to the Club itself.
Notification was received from the FAW in letter form on 9th May 2019 indicating in the first instance that our application for Tier 2 status had been rejected and notifying the Club that we would be afforded 10 days from date of receipt of correspondence to file our appeal.
The appeal itself was prepared and sent by email transmission with 24 hours on the 10th May 2019 indicating to the FAW that under Rule 42.2.3 the correspondence was to be treated as the Clubs Notice of Appeal. Within the body of that document it confirmed that both Professional Accountants and Lawyers had been instructed on behalf of the Club, to deal with the requirements made by Companies House. It was pointed out to the FAW that the current existing sole Director was living out of the jurisdiction, in Thailand, and that the matter would be remedied with the appointment of new Directors in due course. Critically It was also confirmed that the Club would update the FAW as to progress.
On Friday 17th May 2019 the Club notified the FAW that it’s Accountants had been in contact with the Restoration Section based at Companies House. It had been confirmed that reinstatement would be possible providing certain procedures were undertaken. Thereafter the Club had located and contacted the sole Director residing in Thailand who completed and signed the Application for Administrative Restoration as well as signing a Confirmation Statement. During the course of that update the FAW were also informed that the existing Director was also prepared to sign off the Annual Returns required by Companies House (being the only personal legally entitled to do so).
The FAW were informed that acting on the Professional Accountants advice the Application for Restoration with Companies House was likely to take 14-21 days to complete. It was also confirmed that there was no provision for an expedited process. In essence therefore the Club sought only an extension to around the first week of June 2019.
Given the specific and unusual circumstances which are outlined above, the Club were absolutely mystified by the reluctance of the FAW not to extend the period to complete the Restoration process by a short period of time, and in doing so, declined the Tier 2 application.
What is particularly disconcerting is that from actually receiving written notification of the FAW’s initial decision (9th May 2019) to the FAW determining the Appeals procedure, incorporated a time span of 9 working days only. The Club takes the view that this was a wholly unrealistic time period within which the Club was obliged to rectify matters following professional advice. By way of an example as the sole Director was residing in Thailand, there was a 7 hour differential time zone to negotiate, which apart from locating the Director itself was hugely problematical.
It should be noted that the Club Trustee contacted the FAW on Thursday 18th April 2018 leaving a voicemail message with one of the senior officers seeking at that stage clarification of any issues pertaining to the Tier 2 criteria. No response was received to that communication, so therefore on 2nd May 2019 the Club Trustee submitted in written form a further request. That request was ultimately responded to during the latter part of Thursday 9th May 2019. The Club take the firm view that that conduct by the FAW was at the very least discourteous, and had a timely response been received then it follows that the Club would have had additional time to remedy the shortcomings which were referred to by the FAW in their initial refusal of Tier 2 status on 9th May 2019.
The Club, if nothing else, prides itself on its resilient attributes and over the course of recent days have undertaken a series of meetings with both the Trustee, Committee, Management and Playing staff. Despite what the Club perceives as being inherently unfair treatment by the Regulating Body there exists a steely determination within the Club to keep progressing notwithstanding the clear and very obvious obstacles which has been placed in its path over the course of recent weeks. Critically the Management and Playing staff have committed themselves to the new season and the Club therefore is eagerly awaiting the commencement of the new season.
A series of pre-season friendlies have already been arranged and substantial investment has been pledged into the stadium and infrastructure of the Club itself. As a Club we simply refuse to yield to whatever negative circumstances present themselves and are extremely optimistic about the future of both the Club’s on and off field activities