On 5 March 2018 Meadow Residential (acting through a connected licensor company) purported to terminate Dulwich Hamlet Football Club’s (DHFC Ltd) licence to play at Champion Hill, with immediate effect.
A few days before, a statutory demand was served on the Club for £121k in backdated rent and other charges, said to have been accrued since the 2013-14 season (predominantly, therefore, during the period in which Meadow and its predecessor controlled DHFC Ltd).
On 6 March Blake Morgan LLP, solicitors representing “Greendales IP LLC” (a Delaware corporation assumed to be connected to Meadow) informed DHFC Limited that Greendales had (last October) registered the words “Dulwich Hamlet Football Club”, “DHFC” and “The Hamlet” as trademarks, and demanded that the Club immediately cease using these words “on any printed literature and any online activity including websites and twitter”.
These bizarre and punitive moves effectively leave our 125 year-old club homeless and nameless – barely a year after Meadow co-owner Peter Bennison signed an updated memorandum of understanding (MOU) with DHST committing Meadow to ‘ensure the financial sustainability’ of the football club ‘irrespective of the outcome of the planning application’. Meadow’s actions in the past week appear to us to be a clear and unconscionable attempt to force the club into liquidation.
DHST honoured its commitments under the MOU to support Meadow’s plans. So too did the volunteer members of the Club’s football committee and the many supporters who wrote letters of support.
It now seems clear to us that there can be no future for any development involving Meadow at Champion Hill. There is only one honourable and responsible course for them now to take: to withdraw the statutory demand, reassign the trademark registrations, withdraw the termination of the licence and arrange the sale of Champion Hill at fair market value to Southwark Council or another party on terms that address any historic debt issues affecting the club.
Earlier today, Meadow contacted us and signalled their intention to transfer the trademarks to DHST. Whilst transferring fundamental assets of this Club, such as its name, back to its supporters is welcome, it’s disappointing that action is even necessary.
Adversity has demonstrated the value of this club to our community. It is not too late for Andrew McDaniel and Peter Bennison to step back from the brink and resolve this matter with honour. We call on them to accept that Meadow’s involvement at Champion Hill must now end, and to enter into good faith negotiations with interested parties for the rapid sale of Champion Hill on terms that give absolute priority to its long term sustainability.
DHST remains committed to its objectives and hope that this sorry saga is concluded rapidly, that we might continue to pursue them and fully realise our goal of a permanent sustainable home for DHFC in East Dulwich.
On the 6 of March DHST and Football Committee representatives attended the Houses of Parliament to meet with a number of the Club’s supporters in parliament and update them on recent developments. We thank MP’s Helen Hayes, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan and Harriet Harman as well as Lord Roy Kennedy for their ongoing support. We also thank London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Leader of Southwark Council Peter John for their continued assistance.
Finally, we would like to thank all our members for their continued support. Together, we cannot and will not let this club go without an almighty fight.
The club and DHST need your help to continue the struggle. We ask you to please contact your local MP, councillors and London Assembly members. This can be done through www.writetothem.com or by sending them a letter. When contacting them, please consider the following:
- DHFC is an important community asset that has received national recognition for its inclusive values, but that its existence is under threat from the property developers who control the ground.
- Make the message personal and interesting. Tell them what the club means to you and what an asset it is to the local area.
- Consider the impact of the club on your family – if you have older family members with memories of years gone by these stories need to be told, or similarly the young passion of your children.
- Ask for their support of the club during the current situation.
Please note that personalised messages will always garner more attention and you must contact your local representatives even if they are not in Southwark. Physical letters are often particularly effective but any contact is useful. Be sure to use emotion, personal perspectives and even humour in any correspondence as this is particularly useful in garnering attention from people who receive a large volume of mail.
DHFC is just one of many clubs who have faced and will face this kind of hostility. This action doesn’t and should not end with DHFC, we must fight for grassroots football whenever and wherever we can.
With your help we can secure the future of this football club – please spread the word.