On Wednesday 29 November, a delegation from the Club including First Team Manager, Gavin Rose; Committee Chair, Liam Hickey; Committee Secretary, Rav Anand and DHST Chair, Alex Crane spoke at the Southwark Council Assembly during the deputations part of the evening. They spoke about the history of the Club, the work that the ASPIRE Academy does, the current situation that it finds itself in and asked for the Leader, Peter John, to confirm how he would continue to offer his support and that of the Council in keeping the Club going.
Other items of note involving the Club included questions to the Cabinet from Councillor Catherine Rose (a DHST member and regular supporter) and one from Councillor James Barber. A motion (set out below) was put forward by Councillor Rose and Councillor Sarah King. We are happy to report that the Council voted and made clear its unanimous support for Dulwich Hamlet FC.
Councillors decided that Southwark should make “all efforts necessary” to provide practical support for the club, including financial help if needed, to allow it to plan for the longer term.
They also decided that the Council should work with the club to ensure that Hamlet fans can be at the heart of determining its future.
QUESTION TO THE LEADER FROM COUNCILLOR CATHERINE ROSE
Would the leader provide a statement on the discussions that the council has had with Dulwich Hamlet Football Club (DHFC) Ltd and other key community stakeholders on the future viability of Dulwich Hamlet FC?
The council remains committed to safeguarding the future of Dulwich Hamlet FC, preservation of Greendale and ensuring that any housing development delivers at least 35% affordable housing.
In October, developer Meadow Residential, the owners of Dulwich Hamlet’s Champion Hill ground, withdrew its appeals against the council in relation to a planning application for the redevelopment of the football ground and adjacent Metropolitan Open Land at Greendale. Parallel legal proceedings against the council in relation to the lease of land at Greendale, driven by Meadow, were also withdrawn. Control of the Greendale site will return to the council in January 2018.
The council has since met with the developer and again made its position clear with regard to Dulwich Hamlet, affordable housing and open space at Greendale, which should be preserved for wider community use.
QUESTION TO THE CABINET MEMBER FOR COMMUNITIES, SAFETY AND LEISURE FROM COUNCILLOR JAMES BARBER
Is the cabinet member willing to support community led plans for a revenue-raising all- weather pitch at Dulwich Hamlet Football Club that could help stabilise the club’s finances and provide much needed local facilities?
The council supports the principle of improvements to existing facilities at Champion Hill including new all-weather pitches, which would both assist in securing the future of Dulwich Hamlet Football Club and provide sporting facilities that could then also be open for use much more broadly, fostering wider participation in sport and benefiting the wider community further.
MOTION FROM COUNCILLOR CATHERINE ROSE (Seconded by Councillor Sarah King)
Support for Dulwich Hamlet Football Club (DHFC)
- Council assembly notes:
- The leader of the council, Councillor Peter John’s support for DHFC and his statement that “We are never going to let the club fail” is welcome support for the club.
- That Dulwich Hamlet has continuously occupied a site on the Green Dale site since 1902, first Freemans Field and finally settling on the adjacent plot its current location in 1931. This followed moving from sites in the Dulwich area; Woodwarde Road, College farm and Sunray Avenue. The 1931 Stadium was in use until 1991 until it fell into poor repair and foul of legislation that required football clubs to adopt modern safety standards.
- That the use of the site as a football stadium with its sporting facilities is a long established use and is one of the few remaining venues of those used in the 1948 London Olympics. The site, or an adjacent site, has been in continual use by the club since it moved to Green Dale and provides facilities for the local community, schools, charities and other professional football events.
- The significant contribution Dulwich Hamlet Football Club has made to the national, London and Southwark’s sporting, cultural and social history to modern football. Rooted in working class communities organising themselves at the end of the 19th century, as a means of enriching the lives of those that played for and supported these clubs. The club shares its late Victorian origins with the Herne Hill Velodrome that was recently granted planning permission to improve its stadium and make better use of its site. The DHFC hosted the amateur football games of the 1948 Summer Olympics on Green Dale in the identical way as the Veldrome hosted cycling events during the same Olympics. Dulwich Hamlet Football Club is meshed into the fabric of our borough and the hearts of fans since 1893, when founded by Pa Wilson. A club established on the key principles of “not just how we play the game… but how we improve the game”.
- That in the 20th century, club players lived up to the ideals of the amateur tradition; working gentlemen that contributed to their local communities and inspired others through loyalty, leadership, noble actions and sporting success. Men such as Charles Tyson, Hussein Hegazi, Edgar Kail, RegMeritt, Tommy Jover and the current club President Jack Payne. This year, as we bid to become London Borough of Culture, these are true Southwark Pioneers.
- DHFC’s popularity with residents in the borough, with over 2,800 supporters attending matches and recent league success.
- That Gavin Rose, DHFC’s manager was recently awarded Isthmian League’s Mitre Premier Division Manager of the month for October, and that award is recognition of not only recent league success, but of years of hard-work and effort that Gavin Rose, Junior Kadi, Kevin James and all the coaching and physio teams invest into both DHFC and Aspire Football Academy, week in week out. These men and women, together with the current squad are the latest generation of dedicated of DHFC stars, who are forever pink and blue.
- That next year will be the Club’s 125th anniversary.
- That the Club’s contribution to the Isthmian League was recognised in both 2015 and 2017 through the award of the Barry East Trophy at the League’s Annual Awards Ceremony for the Club’s outstanding community work off the pitch.
- That the club received the accolade of “Football Foundation Community Club of the Year” at the National Game Awards last year.
- Council assembly recognises:
- That since the relocation to the current stadium in 1991, the club has untaken a number of attempts to improve its facilities, to build a more efficient building to manage, maintain and to use for sporting and community events.
- That the club has sought to improve the playing pitch to allow for greater use for playing and the community by replacing the grass pitch with a modern artificial, league compliant, playing surface.
- That the recent attempt to improve clubs facilities combined with a residential development undertaken by Meadow Residential LLP has stalled and as a consequence has put the financial future of the club at serious risk.
- That full disclosure of financial information to all those involved in the future of the club should happen as a matter of urgency to allow all stakeholders (Meadow, club owner, team management, club supporters, the council and any other interests that may be involved) to better understand the financial management and financial future of the club.
- That as a consequence of Meadow Residential LLP’s stalled proposals, that DHFC is now crowd funding for the management costs and players’ wages.
- That the club is supportive of plans for an all-weather artificial pitch.
- That this would raise revenue on weekdays – estimated in the region of £4,000 per week – helping to stabilise the club’s finances and allowing for future investment in the bar and other commercial activities.
- That on non-matchdays, an artificial pitch would provide much-needed community facilities for sports and local events.
- That local primary schools could also be given access to an artificial pitch.
- That management of commercial activities – including the bar, food and merchandise – by the club or Supporters’ Trust is likely to dramatically increase profit margins.
Council assembly resolves to:
- Thank the DHST and DHFC 12th Man, for their hard work, dedication and effort in supporting the DHFC Football Committee, including recent actions to meet management costs and players wages and to maintain the financial viability of the club.
- Commends and congratulates Gavin Rose, DHFC’s manager, on his recent award and the ongoing commitment given to young people in this community and beyond through the Aspire Academy.
- To call on the leader of the council to use best endeavours for the council to work with DHFC; to provide practical support for the remainder of this season if needed; allowing the club to plan for the longer term.
- To call on the leader of the council to use best endeavours for the Council to work with DHFC to ensure that the fans can be at the heart of determining its future.
- To call on the leader of the council to write to Meadow Residential LLP to discuss how they may continue to support the club with the payment of management costs and players wages until such time as the future of any current proposals become clear; that for all involved demand that a clear timetable with key milestones for any future proposals for the renewal of the club facilities, the residential development and any continued financial support be drafted.
- To stand with The Rabble. Forward the Hamlet.
- Call on the council to support a fan ownership model for Dulwich Hamlet Football Club.
- Calls on the council to acquire the pitch and stadium at its present location, and work with the club and Supporters’ Trust to secure the long term future of Dulwich Hamlet FC – with the objective for a fan-owned club, under a co-operative or mutual structure.