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Welling fans to help run the club they saved

PUBLISHED: 10:31 23 December 2010

Barrie Hobbins

Barrie Hobbins

Archant

Fans are to get more of a say in running a football club they helped save from the brink of ruin after raising £64,900 in two weeks.

Welling co-owner Barrie Hobbins revealed plans for a shake-up to stengthen the club’s future as 42 investors effectively rescued it with loans, long-term season ticket purchases and donations.

A winding-up petition was dismissed in the High Court on December 15 when HM Revenue and Customs bosses were satisfied they could pay a £60,000 tax bill.

Some fans have stumped up four-figure sums to see their club avoid oblivion.

“It’s the supporters who deserve the congratulations for such a magnificent effort,” Mr Hobbins said. “The money they raised in such a short time frame speaks volumes for the fan base that we have.

“We’ve done the hard part by solving the immediate problem, it’s what we do from now on that determines our future.

“The first thing is to involve the supporters and most importantly, the lenders, in the running of the club. They should have more say and see what goes on. It will help us to have more voices around the table than we’ve had in the past, where it’s been left to two or three of us to carry the can. I’m sure there will be good ideas to come out of it.”

Mr Hobbins thanked long-term season ticket holder Robert Littlefield who put Welling in touch with Norwich City’s solicitors, sports law specialists Leathes Prior.

“He got the ball rolling by getting the right people to work on our behalf. The visits to court, paperwork, negotiations, without them I don’t think we would have done it,” the co-owner said. Despite a transfer embargo and a five-point penalty imposed by the Football Association, Wings are a highly creditable fourth in the Conference South table.

Mr Hobbins said: “Our manager Jamie Day has done a brilliant job under the circumstances. That we are still in contention for the playoffs says everything about the character of the players, the manager and his coaches - they have been faultless.

“The two Christmas games coming up against Bromley and Dartford are the most attractive of the whole season, they are big earners for us, but one or both could be in jeopardy due to the weather.”

The club is relying on gate receipts to get fully up to date with its PAYE bill, which it must do under FA rules to lift their transfer embargo and ease pressure on players. However, Mr Hobbins warned that there would be no increase in the wage bill otherwise they would be “cutting their own throats and be back to square one.”

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