The FA yesterday announced that Hereford United and majority shareholder of the club Alan McCarthy are ‘suspended from football and all footballing activity.’
Hereford are a club now competing in the Southern League Premier Division having been expelled from the Conference due to ‘non-payment of debts’ as well as being served a winding-up order by various creditors, being led by Revenue and Customs and former manager Martin Foyle, according to the BBC.
At the end of November, the F.A. announced that an Independent Regulatory Commission,
“determined charges against Hereford United and Mr Alan McCarthy in relation to failures to comply with Regulations 3.1.1 and 3.1.3 respectively of the Owners’ & Directors’ Test Regulations.”
The club accepted these charges while Alan McCarthy did not respond to the charge. The Independent Regulatory Commission subsequently fined McCarthy and the club £500. The F.A.’s official website stated on the 1st of December 2014,
“The Independent Regulatory Commission also ordered that the Club and Mr McCarthy fully and correctly comply with their obligations under the Owners’ and Directors’ Test Regulations by 4pm on Thursday 4 December 2014.”
“Failure to comply by that deadline shall result in the Club’s and Mr McCarthy’s automatic and immediate suspension from all football and football activities until such time as the Club and Mr McCarthy have either complied with the requirements of the Owners’ and Directors’ Test Regulations or Mr McCarthy has divested his shareholding in Hereford United such that he is no longer an Officer of the Club.”
A document was submitted by the deadline of 4pm on Thursday 4 December but ‘further documentation to satisfy the orders of the commission’ was to be presented by the 8 of December. Part of the F.A. website’s statement from yesterday reads,
“Having failed to provide the requested further documentation by the deadline, both Hereford United and Mr McCarthy shall remain suspended until such time as the order of the Independent Regulatory Commission has been complied with to the satisfaction of the Commission.”
“The FA understands the importance of football clubs to their local communities and will continue to work with all relevant parties to ensure senior football returns to Hereford at the earliest opportunity, although this will be contingent on the club complying with the Regulations and subsequent orders of the Independent Regulatory Commission.”
The Hereford Times reports that Hereford chairman Andy Lonsdale has now taken over as the majority shareholder of the club. He has promised to invest £1 million in the club, the BBC reports. On Monday, the club are expected to contest their winding-up order at the Royal Courts of Justice.
These are worrying times for Hereford and although every effort will now be made by the new chairman to steer the club away from difficulty, helped by his investment, this is another in a long list of football clubs being brought close to the edge through off-field matters.
With the club suspended from footballing activity, the task of sustainability will be extremely difficult and one hopes that the regulations that must be complied with are met sooner rather than later.
As is often the case in these situations, focus will now shift to supporters’ trusts. Hereford United Supporters Trust (HUST) are the obvious port of call and Lonsdale has agreed to address the trust members next Thursday at a meeting in Hereford. When quoted in the Hereford Times he said,
“I want HUST to come to the club, but they’ve refused,”
There will be testing times ahead for the Bulls, but hopefully they can positively come out the other side of what is an extremely difficult time for fans and staff alike.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena
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