Corby Council has issued a statement in the row over funding for The Steelmen.
Legal proceedings have been launched by Corby Town FC against the council after a financial fall out which could force the club into administration.
It has recently run into cashflow difficulties after Corby Council cut funding it says was promised to it back in 2007.
The club says there was an agreement that the council would invest more than £1m (including support from the Football Foundation) in the Rockingham Triangle facility to establish a community sports complex which would be run by the club.
Following comments made yesterday by Corby councillor Rob McKellar and club chairman Kevin Ingram, the borough council has issued a statement.
It says: “It is extremely disappointing that the Corby Conservative Group has issued a press release in which they are selective with the facts in order to present an unfavourable opinion of Corby Borough Council.
“Cllr McKellar, the author of the press release, is a member of the Rockingham Triangle all party Member Working Group which oversees for the council the proposed works to the sports pavilion. Until very recently Cllr McKellar has been supportive of the council’s position on this. The council’s position has not changed but, for whatever reason, Cllr McKellar’s apparently has.”
Cllr McKellar is disputing this and said: “This is fundamentally incorrect. My position has always been that the council should meet with Corby Town Football Club to discuss the dispute and the proposals. I believe that the council’s statement is eluding to an earlier comment I made in which I stated that I believe the 2007 Service Level Agreement to be ultra vires. This remains my belief and my position has not changed in respect of this or in respect of the need for the parties to negotiate. Accordingly the Council’s claim that my position has changed is entirely incorrect.
“The council’s statement is both factually incorrect and defamatory. The original press release indicates that the council is in arrears of payments in respect of the original Service Level Agreement. Whether or not that Service Level Agreement is vires or ultra vires is entirely immaterial to to the position outlined in the press release which was that the council is in arrears upon the agreement. Accordingly the council’s claim that their position has been misrepresented is entirely incorrect.”
Corby Council’s statement goes on: “The football club has commenced legal proceedings against the council primarily around the Service Level Agreement (SLA) entered into in 2007. Despite the SLA never formally being agreed, the council has continued to support the Triangle facilities in the interests of the wider Corby community by providing substantial financial grant support since 2007 of £460,000, as well as charging no rent and agreeing rate relief totalling many tens of thousands of pounds towards the running of community facilities at Rockingham Triangle.
“Like councils across the country, Corby Council has had to reduce external funding and as such in the last three years the value of the SLA contributions to Corby Town Football Club (CTFC) have been reduced, as has council support to other local groups. The football club has only now challenged those reductions which commenced three years ago.
“It is very important to note that the SLA funds have been toward the upkeep of the Triangle facilities and not to support CTFC nor pay its players. Corby Council has a commitment to provide facilities for our community, not to fund a private company. Also, even if the SLA is a valid document, CTFC have consistently not fulfilled their obligations under it.
“Before taking ownership of CTFC some two years ago, Mr Ingram was made well aware of the council’s future financial support for Rockingham Triangle and the precarious state of CTFC’s finances. However, during the last two years considerable effort and time has been spent by parties to find a viable solution for making the facilities and clubs more sustainable.
“The council believed this had been achieved last April with the council approving £200k of expenditure on the pavilion. Primarily this is for the provision of four new and refurbished changing rooms, for CTFC and local clubs, which would also benefit the wider community. There is no grant funding in this £200,000 as the Conservative press release wrongly states, it is all council funds.
“Additionally, the council has also agreed to support the Athletics Club’s ambitions to improve the athletics stadium to the tune of £50,000 of its own funds and £170,000 of grant support to help with utilities, rates and maintenance costs over the next five years to the Corby Athletics Club and CTFC. New agreements were signed and clubs so far have received £35,000.
“The CTFC’s proposals, as given in Cllr McKellar’s release, sound very similar to those previously presented to the council, and which an independent thirdparty put costs to. Those costs far exceeded the £200,000 available and are not affordable unless other funds are found. CTFC have indicated the possibility of other funds being sourced, but to date none have been secured.
“It would be ideal if CTFC were self financing but it appears that to get to that point they require considerable investment and the only body to commit to any such support has been the Borough Council, by agreeing the sum of £200,000.
“The council will meet CTFC when it has received the clubs latest proposals for the pavilion, having had the time to digest and consider them. This was made clear to the club in November 2013 and this position has not changed.
“The council feels a great deal of sympathy for the CTFC supporters and volunteers that have also put so much into the club over many years. It’s therefore essential that these supporters know the council’s position has been misrepresented by the two Corby Conservative councillors and the chairman of CTFC in the press release yesterday.”