'It's coming home': Clapton CFC wins lease bid for Forest Gate's Old Spotted Dog ground
PUBLISHED: 13:39 17 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:53 17 September 2019
A football club's dream to "come back" to its "spiritual home" could soon be realised after it was offered the lease at a stadium in Forest Gate.
Freeholder, Star Pubs & Bars, has offered Clapton Community FC the lease at the Old Spotted Dog ground in Upton Lane, the firm announced today (September 17).
A Clapton CFC spokesman said: "We're thrilled with today's announcement from Star Pubs & Bars that we're the prospective leaseholder and can't wait to outline our vision to them and to the public.
"From day one, Clapton CFC's mission has been to bring the Old Spotted Dog ground back to its rightful place as a hub of the Forest Gate and wider Newham community. We are a members-owned club and in a poll 99 per cent of fans wanted to return even though we're loving our time playing in Walthamstow too.
"We'll be holding a public meeting in Forest Gate in mid October where we want to set out our plans and hear from anyone who would like to use the facility for sporting or other community use.
"In the meantime we're going to be busy. The contract isn't signed yet, and there is plenty of work to do yet to get the ground fit for use.
"We would like to thank Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, Lyn Brown MP and Newham councillors Sasha das Gupta and Mas Patel, and many community organisations, for their support in helping us get to this stage," he added.
Star Pubs & Bars had been looking for new leaseholders to ensure the Old Spotted Dog is re-let for football since it terminated the lease - held by Newham Community Leisure Ltd since 1995 - due to non-payment of rent.
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The company - which runs pubs for brewing giant, Heineken - took bids from Clapton Community FC, Clapton FC and Hackney Wick FC.
But the fan-owned club beat its rivals after the Star Pubs & Bars' property team reviewed each applicant's financial standing, ability to run the ground and supporting references.
Claire Hodder, corporate estates manager at Star Pubs & Bars, said: "We want football to be played back on the ground as soon as possible and had three really strong bids in.
"Our process was thorough and evidence based, as a result of which we're pleased to say a lease has now been offered to Clapton Community FC.
"We look forward to working with them to preserve the ground for community use for the long term."
In response, West Ham MP, Lyn Brown, said she was delighted that Star Pubs & Bars has awarded the lease to Clapton Community FC.
She added: "The club's momentum is extraordinary and I see it as a genuine force for good in the community. Their fans clearly have a genuine passion, both for their team and for the community from which it sprang.
"I can't wait to visit and raise a glass to toast their success."
Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, said: "I've been fully supportive of all efforts that enable community and grass-roots sports including football to flourish.
"I'm delighted at this decision by Star Pubs and Bars to allow Clapton Community FC to come back home to Newham. It's wonderful that this community asset will contribute so much more social value for the people of our borough."