Wraysbury Football Club is over 114 years old and is in jeopardy of going out of existence following a long-running dispute with Wraysbury Parish Council, (WPC), who last night at their latest Parish Council Meeting announced they were evicting the club from the Memorial Ground at the end of the current season.
Chairman John Stephenson said “They say this is due to monies owed. The amount claimed by WPC is vehemently disputed by the football club and efforts by the football club to resolve this issue amicably over the past year have been rebuffed by a Parish Council which is acting is a high-handed manner.
The football club runs a Saturday and a Sunday team and are looking to introduce a youth team from the start of next season. The support the club receives from the Village is immense and includes both practical and financial help.
Over the years WFC has had assistance from sponsors such as The Frost Partnership and from the Village Trust. We try to keep football affordable for our players while at the same time giving them the opportunity to develop. We are proud of the fact that several of our players have gone on to bigger and better things and our manager, John Warrington is developing an exciting squad of players which is capable of going places.
11 Years ago, Wraysbury FC were Middlesex County Champions finishing above teams like Hanworth Villa, Spelthorne Sports and Bedfont Sports. While we continue to play at step 7 of the non-league pyramid, these other clubs are now playing senior football and compete in tournaments such as the FA Cup. We can only look on with envy at the support these clubs have received from their local authorities to help them get there.
Our particular issue revolves around monies WPC say is owed by WFC to them. This is for building insurance premiums that have risen greatly over recent years. From £200 to £450, then to £950 per annum. WPC have never given prior warning whatsoever to increases. The FC budgets accordingly pre-season, to be ready for the relevant expenditures throughout the year. We also query the relationship between the WPC and the insurance broker who has sourced insurance policies on their behalf and how quotes are sourced and what comparison quotes have been sought from other brokers and insurance companies. There is far too much secrecy in terms of how the policy is divided up between the various buildings WPC insures and we have never seen details of any policy we are being asked to pay for.
The insurance policy is to cover the changing rooms and storage building which are constructed of mainly breezeblock and wood. The parish council have valued the building at around £130,000.00 for insurance purposes, which is a gross over-estimation. It is possible to build a 3-bedroom house for this amount and we have received quotes for an inclusive like for like rebuild of around £48,000.00. The premium is of course set against the value given by the parish council, which is now at the £950 PA mark. We obtained insurance quotes that came in at around 40% to 50% cheaper, even on the WPC valuation.
WFC dispute the amount WPC say is owed for the following reasons. Some years ago, it was found that we had overpaid WPC £500.00 and we were informed that this would be credited back to us. This has never ever happened.
In September 2016, Wraysbury Village Trust paid £650 to WPC on our behalf. WPC will not even confirm they have received this amount. They are totally ignoring the payments that have been made and we are baffled as to why. WPC say WFC owes it around £2000. We believe it to be around £800-£850 but they continue to ignore our requests for them to confirm receipt of payments made which are indisputable and have decided to evict us for owing an amount of money we patently do not owe. We can only assume the WPC has a hidden agenda and residents of Wraysbury Village should be concerned about future plans for the Memorial Ground which was left in trust to WPC for the benefit of the village shortly after WW1.
Our manager attended the September meeting of WPC and reported back favourably. Councillor Sue Nicholls proposed that a meeting between WPC and WFC take place to resolve issues. This was unanimously agreed at the meeting and is included in the council minutes. The Chairperson told our manager this meeting would take place before the end of October. Despite a number of requests to confirm a date for this meeting, we received an email from WPC just before Christmas to say this meeting would no longer take place. No reason was given for this sudden change of mind. We can only speculate what the true intentions of WPC really are.
WPC need to acknowledge these issues and sit and discuss them with WFC. Once they have acknowledged the payments we have made, then we will discuss paying any balance owed to them. If they do not, we will do all in our power to have the WPC audited because if they cannot keep the accounts of their dealings with the football club in order then there clearly is an issue with the way WPC is being run.
Officials, players, members, and residents, are all quite rightly angry at WPC over this whole issue. The Cricket Club has also been in dispute with WPC over similar issues and this too has caused outrage. It appears WPC is trying to remove sport from the Village which they have no right to do.
WPC are off in their thinking and public relations. Surely, they should support the local sports clubs, talk to them, see what they’re doing, rather than just ignore everything. They don’t even get out and talk to residents about Wraysbury and they wonder why people have lost faith and any trust in WPC.
It appears that unless WPC do the right thing and start talking then we will have no option than to follow all legal avenues that are open to us and also request Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council to investigate as there is clearly something amiss with the Parish Council and the way they are behaving raises suspicions that there are far deeper problems within WPC. The football club will do all in its power to get to the bottom of it all rather than let 114 years of history be destroyed”
We would urge anyone who cares about Wraysbury FC to contact WPC via email to show support for the football club. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org