16 June 2021
Press release/ statement from iRama
We would like to take this opportunity to address the growing concerns from the footballing community regarding our recent purchases of football grounds. To begin with, iRama’s mission statement is to create a safe environment for people of all ages to come and play football.
Our vision and values are and will continually remain centred around football and sports as a whole. Our intentions since we arrived have been to help support the local community and have no intention of using any football facilities for building any properties on site. We accept that as a real estate company we do not have first-hand experience of dealing within football and that is why we have heavily relied on the local communities and groups that were already using the facilities at all of our sites.
We had taken over as the owners of 15 Church Road with the view to have the First Team continuing playing at our ground, and still want it to be a Whyteleafe First Team ground. Upon purchasing the ground, the lease was terminated not by ourselves, but by the trustees of the Football club.
We have tried and have still been actively trying to accommodate the Whyteleafe First Team as we know how much the club means to the fans and the players and we want to ensure that the community that has been built all these years continues to thrive.
We do not accept the statement published by Whyteleafe First Team as it is wrong and misleading. It is very unfortunate that we are being used as the scapegoat for a club that has in fact been poorly run the last couple of years.
Under the terms of the lease that the club had, they are responsible for maintaining the facilities and any areas of use they participate in and if necessary, to cover the cost of repairs. They are also not permitted to sublet the facilities to third party groups without consent from the owners. Our legal team have been in constant dialogue with the Chairman at Whyteleafe to provide us with the club’s turnover accounts as the lease requires the Club to do so and after 8 months, he has still refused to provide any documentation.
During this time, we have spent tens of thousands of pounds on repairing and replacing structures of the club that have been left unfit for use and unsafe for a number of years and we will continue to do so in order to create a safe environment for those using our facilities. We also made good of the plumbing and heating system as well as deep cleaned all buildings. The state the club house was left in prior to our takeover meant that the local Nursery were unable to resume their term until these issues were resolved. They are now running smoothly and grateful for the support we have shown them.
To corroborate the fact that our vision has remained football and upkeeping a thriving community, everyone else who has been playing at the ground can confirm how accommodating we have been in order to ensure that no one has to change the location as to where they play football. Kinetic Foundation and the numerous Whyteleafe Youth teams in particular (20+ teams including Ladies 1st team), who use the grounds regularly can testify how amenable we have been to ensure that they can continue to play at our grounds currently and going forward into future seasons.
Despite some of the issues we have faced with dealing with the Chairman at Whyteleafe FC, we have tried our best to help support the club and keep them playing at the ground for as long as possible, we even offered the club the chance to pay us half of what they were paying previously and also went on to offer the club an opportunity to pay whatever they could afford. We have tried to accommodate the club wherever we can to ensure they survived. Due to Covid, like everyone the club has suffered and the management realised they could not sustain the business model. After stating he would step down from the club, the Chairman at Whyteleafe then disclosed the mounting debt the club owes to its numerous creditors (including himself) to some interested parties. Negotiations at this point stopped and the club have now decided to withdraw from the league.
Unfortunately, lightning has struck twice and a similar situation has taken place at Abingdon Town FC which has been mismanaged for a number of years prior to our purchase. Their own Chairman and committee requested to not have to pay to use the facilities– citing Covid causing understandable difficulties but resulted in proceeding to take turnover from the bar and again sublet the facilities to unauthorized groups. We further wish to inform that Abingdon Town FC had no lease at the site and no insurance. Also, no food license and continue to run the club in this way without listening to our concerns. The club only stopped serving food and beverage once the council intervened due to a rat infestation.
Our goal is to support all groups using our grounds but there needs to be some level of trust, management and honest dealings in order for us to conduct our duty’s as landlords. We refute all claims that we have pushed these clubs out and are glad that we have been able to secure at least youth football at both grounds at present. Abingdon Town will be home to 8 new youth teams right from U10’s to U16’s and with time and support hope for this to grow and develop into a successful men’s football team.
Our plans are to continually build the community feel at Church Road and Culham Road, host charity related sporting events and continue to ensure that it is a safe and friendly environment. We guarantee that all grounds that we have purchased will remain 100% recreational, helping communities to have a stable place to go to in addition to us providing free hours of usage for local community groups, youth programs and Charities. Some of these have already had events including Active Oxfordshire and the Vale School Sport Partnership.
We also wish to reiterate that Ian rush is a real estate investor and partner with iRama. Ian Rush plays no part in any other part of iRama’s business unless stated, and nor should he be held responsible for any of iRama’s acts. Ian Rush and iRama own these football grounds and have no affiliation to the clubs and teams using the grounds.
EMS – Management service on behalf of iRama PTE LTD