Significant development at Lewes
Posted by John Beech on July 9, 2010
Lewes, who avoided relegation to stay in the Conference South, have appeared a number of times on this blog (see postings passim) for the usual ‘wrong’ reasons. In 1977 they joined the Isthmian League Division 2, and by 2008 had reached the Conference National, only surviving there for one season.
Off the pitch the club has of late been troubled financially. A long running battle with HMRC has seen the club flirt with Administration, the latest crisis being in January of this year (1). The club had been struggling to pay off a £107,000 tax bill (2) and at that time were reported to owe £45,000 to other creditors. This round of the battle to survive had been achieved through a mixture of donations and a couple of longer-term interest-free loans (3).
Today comes the news that the club, in what is being described as a ‘velvet revolution’ (4), has become a Community Benefit Society, moving to what historically football clubs were – organisations where a one person, one vote system operates, rather than organisations run at the whim of a single owner. Details of the new organisation and the all-important transition over the next two years are available on the club website.
This move to a system of fan ownership is highly significant, and most welcome. It is not a magic wand of course; the club still has debts, and the loans will have to be repaid. If the Rooks can keep up the impetus, and, given the new climate of fans being directly involved the chances look good, they will succeed. I certainly wish them well.
The Rooks Supporters Trust (which is a different body from the Community Benefit Society) Newsletter 11 includes an interesting discussion on the context of this development. It can be downloaded as a .pdf file here.