New owner takes over football club
09:24 23 July 2009
THE new owner of Harlow Town Football Club is appealling for the town s support after the club won a reprieve at the High Court yesterday (Wednesday). Carol Bothwell, 43, became the sole shareholder at the club after an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) at
THE new owner of Harlow Town Football Club is appealling for the town's support after the club won a reprieve at the High Court yesterday (Wednesday).
Carol Bothwell, 43, became the sole shareholder at the club after an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) at the Barrows Farm stadium on Tuesday afternoon. The meeting saw chief executive Jeff Bothwell hand over his shares to Ms Bothwell, while chairman Simon Morgan resigned.
Yesterday (Wednesday) the club won a 63-day reprieve at the High Court over an outstanding £40,000 tax bill owed to HM Revenue and Customs.
"It's brilliant news, I'm really pleased and am very positive now," said the 43-year-old in her first day in charge. "A lot was riding on today, but now we just need to bring in as much revenue as we can.
"We'll be bringing in volunteers so we'll be paying out less wages, and making cutbacks behind the scenes, but not on the pitch. These are all things that need to be put in place to raise money. I'll even sell some of the shares to another investor."
Commenting on the EGM, Ms Bothwell said: "I had thought a lot about it and felt I was either going to lose everything or I can fight and make the club work. There is a lot of potential here and with hard work that potential can be achieved."
Ms Bothwell is now trying to secure new investment after the club won a nine-week reprieve at London's High Court when Chief Registrar Baister adjourned the winding-up order to give the club time to settle its debts.
Lawyers for HM Revenue and Customs had argued that a compulsory order winding up the club should be made, despite this being the first hearing of the petition, leading the Registrar to comment: "Why so unusually aggressive?"
When given no answer, he adjourned the petition for 63 days - seven more than had actually been sought by the club's lawyers.
"I will say nothing about football clubs," he added, cryptically.
Had the club been compulsorily wound up, it would have effectively handed over the club's affairs to an official receiver. His job would then be to do his best to ensure that debts are paid off by selling any assets available and then bringing business to a close.
Ms Bothwell added: "I believe a lot of the debts are fictional. We need as many sponsors as we can get. I'm also due to meet Bill Rammell MP and Harlow Council tomorrow (Friday) who are in full support and want to help us make it a success.
"We're planning for the new season, we have sponsorship and adverts to sell so there will be money coming into the club. We'll also up the membership and start opening up the club during the day. The facilities can be used a lot more.
"I want to get the club back to how it was. People really enjoyed coming here, it had a friendly atmosphere and was family run."
Ms Bothwell confirmed that any previous functions and bookings at the club will still go ahead.
After the EGM on Tuesday Harlow beat St Albans 4-2 at Barrows Farm, but manager Glen Alzapiedi resigned and many of the players decided to leave too (see back page).
Ms Bothwell, who lives in Harlow and was involved with the club in the late 1990s, added: "A few of the players have decided not to stay, which I understand as the court case was looming. Players do not want to take a chance, which we understand. Without his players Glen did not have a team and his reputation was on the line so I can understand his decision."
Ms Bothwell confirmed she was discussing the managerial vacancy with someone who could bring in a lot of players. She was also hoping to fill the post of first team secretary, following the resignation of Jim Aldridge.
"Hopefully things will be in place within the next week. I'm positive and really think we can make a go of it.