Mayor of London Sadiq Khan reveals 'deep concerns' over the perilous future of Dulwich Hamlet

The club has been left with obligations it cannot meet, leaving fans resorting to helping out with the wage bill through PayPal for the foreseeable future

Jack Pitt-Brooke
Wednesday 08 November 2017 13:38
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Sadiq Khan is concerned for the fate of Dulwich Hamlet
Sadiq Khan is concerned for the fate of Dulwich Hamlet

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has “deep concerns” over the perilous future of Dulwich Hamlet FC.

Meadow Residential, who own Dulwich’s ground, have pulled the plug on funding the club this month after losing a lengthy battle with Southwark Council over redevelopment. The club has been left by Meadow with obligations it cannot meet, leaving fans resorting to helping out with the wage bill through PayPal for the foreseeable future.

Even though the club’s gate receipts outstrip its wage bill by 50 per cent, it is now in an unsustainable position and will eventually face closure, with Meadow refusing to sell Champion Hill to interested investors. They insist they have no intention of selling, and have new talks scheduled with Southwark Council this week, just weeks after they accused Southwark of “defamatory statements” prejudicing their failed planning application.

The Mayor has thrown his weight behind the club and urged Meadow to find a solution, whether in fresh partnership with Southwark or even selling on the site. “It’s deeply concerning to me that Dulwich Hamlet’s future remains uncertain at a time when it is doing so much good in the community,” he told The Independent. “I urge the current owners to do the right thing and revisit their application to protect Dulwich Hamlet and deliver more affordable homes, or find an alternative that ensures the future of a football club that means so much to its supporters and local community.”

Dulwich’s struggles come as a surprise to many given they are the best-supported team of their level, with an average gate of 1,500 and regularly drawing in excess of 2,500. Dulwich are currently top of the Bostik Premier Division, one below Conference South. “Dulwich Hamlet epitomises everything that’s great about non-league football,” Khan said. “It brings together communities of all backgrounds, strengthens social ties and networks, and is part of the very fabric of this area of south London”

Fans are concerned about the future of their club

Relations between Meadow, Southwark and the football club itself have become increasingly fractious since Meadow withdrew financial support. In a statement released on Monday, the football said they had entered “a very worrying period” as they had been “asked to take on what we feel are untenable positions and responsibilities.”

Now Dulwich manager Gavin Rose is furious at Meadow’s claims in their own statement that the wage bill was running as high as £8,000 per week, when the correct figure is just under £5,000. “The club’s playing budget has never been £8,000 per week, not once,” Rose said. “Even with bonuses it has not got close to it. These kind of numbers are thrown around without consequence but cannot be backed up at all.”

Dulwich's future remains firmly in doubt (Duncan Palmer)

Rose, like many at Dulwich Hamlet, is frustrated that Meadow have put the club under so much pressure while refusing to sell the ground or to accept fresh investment into the football club. Meadow say they are reviewing their legal and commercial position and are working to find a solution for all parties.

“People have always rallied around DHFC and the way that we play our football, and so seeing us in these straits has really brought friends out from both the football and the business community,” Rose said. “Whether it’s enough remains to be seen, but if this club goes down then it won’t be due to a lack of support, friends or goodwill in the face of some very poor faith from a hedge fund who clearly have no interest in the ongoing support that this club provides to the community.”

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