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Hereford United expelled from Conference: Heartbreak for fans
Updated 4:47pm Thursday 12th June 2014 in News
This live event has finished
- Heartbreak for fans - many expressing anger and disbelief
- Club expelled from league - appears it could not pay outstanding debts as laid out on Friday
- Chester will take Hereford's place
- We'll get details about the club's immediate future as soon as we can
Hereford United Community Trust say that they are committed to continuing.
They will be in contact with parents and players as soon as possible.
New owner Tommy Agombar told Hereford United's official website yesterday that he 'made sure that payments are being made to both staff and creditors.
RT @HTnewsroom: Hereford United will be facing Cardiff City at Edgar Street on July 12. Prices for the game are set at £10 and £5. Will you…— @StevenageFCMatt 11 June 2014
We have an unusual situation at Hereford United today.
Yesterday, United were expelled from the Conference.
The club's pre-season training has started - but the club does not have a league in which to compete.
And those, who played for Hereford last season, have still not been paid.
Sad news coming through today is that media officer Jamie Griffiths has decided to stand down from his role at Hereford United.
Jamie has been an unsung hero at the club and has always been a pleasure to work with.
We know that Jamie was very emotional when he made his decision - he has been a loyal and selfless servant at Edgar Street.
Daniel Lloyd-Weston has joined Southport to re-united with former Hereford manager Martin Foyle.
Rod McDonald has also signed for AFC Telford.
Sam Gwynne is believed to be one of the trialists at Victoria Park today.
HEREFORD United’s Edgar Street stadium still has a future as a football ground, despite the club’s own future being far from secure.
Herefordshire Council has confirmed that the new leases on ground do not change a requirement for football to be played there.
That requirement for football remains in the original lease on the ground.
In a statement, the council confirmed that the two new leases relate to redevelopment of the Meadow End and Blackfriars End and stipulate that any proceeds be re-invested in the ground and its facilities.
The council is now analysing the application of terms in an historic covenant on the ground stating that football should be there.
Confirmation of the legal standing that covenant has is expected later this afternoon.
There is nothing in the club’s current circumstances that would change or affect the terms of the three leases or allow them to be changed, the council said.
Earlier today, the council said it remained “open to discussions” with any potential investors in Hereford United.
Council leader Cllr Tony Johnson said the expulsion of United from the Conference was a “significant blow to the city and county”.
But the council, he said, was “committed” to keeping football at Edgar Street.
At present, the renegotiated leases on the ground continue to be held by the club.
If the club folds the leases would revert back to the council.
On Friday, the Hereford Times revealed that senior council officers had meet with the reported new owner of United.
But the council stressed that the meetings between those officers and Tommy Agombar were “standard introductions” with no outline of future plans for the club.
In a statement, the council said it had yet to receive “formal notification” of the club’s new ownership arrangements and could not take part in negotiations without it.
Mr Agombar, the council confirmed, was introduced to those senior officers he could expect to “engage with” in future.
The council and the club are closely entwined and most recently worked together to negotiate new leases on the ground.
Assigning the Edgar Street leases – one for 75 years on the ground and terracing to the west, the other for 33 years for the stand and parking area to the east and both dating from 1982 - was one of the last big deals done by the former Hereford City Council.
During the late 1990s, with United facing severe financial problems, the leases were reassigned to property developers in return for a £1m capital injection into the club.
The money was made available through two companies, the BS (Bristol Stadium) Group and Chelverton.
BS and Chelverton took equal ownership of a special purpose company called Formsole Ltd which made the investment and held the leases – as the tenant under both – with the club holding sub-leases.
By August 2001, BS had sold its “loan” to Chelverton which ran into trouble little over a year later when control of the leases passed to Carillion Richardson.
United still owed £1m plus interest to Formsole which stayed solvent when Chelverton went into liquidation.
It was about this time there was talk of United leaving Edgar Street allowing Formsole to sell the site.
This talk came to nothing and by 2003 it was clear the club was staying at Edgar Street.
The reassignment of the leases was supported by Herefordshire Council when it took control of the former city council’s affairs.
Getting the leases back was pitched as a political priority when the news broke in April 2010 that then United chairman Graham Turner and vice chairman Joan Fennessy were ready to sell their majority shareholding in the club.
The club began negotiations with Carillion Richardson for the return of the leases almost as soon as the Keyte-Russon takeover was completed in June that year.
That deal was done by December with the club paying £452,000 to secure the return of the leases and settle a £1,069,500 debt to Richardsons Developments, clearing the way for a new single lease and the development opportunities that could bring.
The deal was intended to offer the club security for the next 30 years and ensure future re-entry to the Football League - which requires a 25-year secured tenancy.
It also opened up opportunities for grant funding for any future development - £400,000 in the Conference and £750,000 in the Football League.
The council was ready to allow an extension to the new stadium lease of 250 years once development at either end was underway, with proceeds from the sale of development areas held in a joint escrow account.
That money was intended for the construction of two new stands - one at each end of the ground - and modernisation work on the existing stadium.
Coaching staff pictured at today's training session alongside Harry Agombar (right), son of Hereford United owner Tommy Agombar.
Mark Ellis leading the training session at Victoria Park today.
Jason Mills, league secretary for The Calor League, says: "The Southern Football League is in discussions with Hereford United FC to determine if there is a way forward for the club’s participation in its competition and will make a further statement in due course."
If Hereford United want to play in a league next year, club bosses will have to work quickly.
The Midland Alliance - Step Five - meets next Wednesday for a "composition of the league" meeting.
The division is one below the Southern Leagues. Hereford side Westfields are currently the county's only representative in that league.
It is understood that Harry Agombar - the son of new owner Tommy Agombar - is training with Hereford United's triallists this morning.
It is remarkable that, with all the turmoil surrounding the club, Hereford United are having trials at Victoria Park today.
They are also lining up a friendly match against Hereford-based Pegasus Juniors this weekend.
League secretary Jason Mills has told the Hereford Times that The Calor League will be issuing a statement later today.
Herefordshire Council has issed a statement regarding developments at Edgar Street.
Council leader Tony Johnson said: "Herefordshire Council is very sorry to hear the news about Hereford United Football Club; it is a significant blow to the city and to the county as a whole.
"We are committed to ensuring that Edgar Street continues to be available as a home for football.
"We have recently renegotiated all of the leases, which continue to be held by the club, to ensure that money generated from redevelopment opportunities at the ground will be invested back into the facilities.
"We remain open to discussions with any potential investors who, like us, wish to see football remain at Edgar Street."
RT @jimcgreen: Thinking of all Hereford United fans this morning after yesterday's nightmare. Future now is @hufctrust. Fine club will come…— @martyndt 11 June 2014
9:03am Wed 11 Jun 14
Dear Mr Keyte,
I am not asking you to explain why you have done what you have done, just to say please take me off your supporters list and lottery, and do not expect any more money toward future 'bail outs', in future I will give from my pension to somethings that will directly benefit the community.
How I admire those in te HUFC supports trust who still try to find out the truth and offer solutions and methods of assistance. A local club run by local people as in Chester would have been such a good way to pull th community together, not smash it apart as you and your 'investors' are doing.
I remain yours Sincerely
A former loyal fan
9:07am Wed 11 Jun 14
Come on Agombar.
Pay the bills you have to pay and the ones you should pay, sort out the situation with the League we are going to end up in and then tell us what's going on.
Or sell the club to HUST for a quid.
I haven't even told my daughters yet. They are 11 and 9 and they'll be in tears.
9:26am Wed 11 Jun 14
i said it was pointless bailing them out a few weeks ago, no one ever listens *sigh
We welcome your comments on the situation - where should the club go from here? What should happen now?
Tweet us @htnewsroom, comment below or send us a letter to email@example.com.
RT @micklufchall: Wayne Rooney is getting payed over £300,000 a week. Poor Hereford United have gone bust over a £148,000 debt. Money has …— @Gerrard_Fowler 11 June 2014
Admidst the chaos of yesterday, we understand 22 trialists slept on camp beds in the Starlite Rooms last night - pre-season training is due to start today.
WE'LL bring you updates as soon as we can today regarding the future of Hereford United following the club's expulsion from the Conference yesterday.
Many fans will be waking up to the devastating knowledge the Bulls have a footballing mountain to climb just to get back to where the club was during those miracle moments at the end of this season just gone, when the players pulled off the impossible to avoid relegation.
Sadly that mircacle wasn't repeated off the pitch.
There are so many outstanding questions about the immediate future - we'll bring you answers as soon as we can.
Reaction still coming in - much of it anger and disbelief
RT @PatMcNicholas: Hereford United's debts- £148,000. Kicked out of the Conference. #QPR's debts- £60,000,000+. Promoted to the Barclays P…— @Wonderwoody1 11 June 2014
I'll be discussing the disaster at Hereford United on @bbchw at 7.20 am— @Jesse_Norman 11 June 2014
RT @0Dingle9: Just read about the dad who had to put his 2 boys to bed in tears over the news at Hereford United today #devastating #undese…— @laureeeeeen_x 11 June 2014
5:00pm Tue 10 Jun 14
This is not about football or hereford its about land value, financial returns and self interest. So sad for the staff and players with no money to pay their bills.
12:02am Wed 11 Jun 14
Tatty Owl1 says
A very sad day for Herefordians everywhere. Being a Herefordian girl living in Chester, I really feel like a fish out of water today!!! You can take the girl out of Herefordshire but you can't take Herefordshire out of the girl!
RT @WayneBrownCoach: Can't believe what has happen at Hereford United. Feel for the amazing fans & the lads who played. Now go & do a Chest…— @daddysplash38 10 June 2014
RT @ChesterFC: We wish @hufctrust the very best in their efforts to own the club they love. It can be done and you'll find your way back. …— @jason_karen 10 June 2014
The Board of Hereford United Supporters Trust, as well as all supporters of Hereford United are extremely saddened and angry at the expulsion of Hereford United from the Football Conference.
Tommy Agombar assured supporters on Friday morning that the club's admin staff would be paid that day. That did not happen.
On Friday afternoon, Agombar's accountant and David Keyte assured the Conference that they would meet the Conference demands as laid out to them. That did not happen.
The fans of this 90 year old football club have been left in the dark about the situation ongoing at the club, and have been misled in believing bills would be paid which have ultimately been left unsatisfied.
We demand answers from Tommy Agombar and David Keyte as to why they have misled supporters, and their loyal staff, with promises of payment and why they have played a game of high stakes poker with a football club of which, during its 90-year history, they are only temporary custodians. Generations of fans are the real Hereford United and generations more will not be deprived of the club their families love.
With Tommy Agombar having repeatedly told HUST officials, and other fans, that he has the money to cover the bills, we demand that all outstanding wages are settled with both current and former staff with immediate effect as he has promised to do on so many occasions.
Our £1 offer remains on the table, having never been rejected, and we are prepared to investigate pathways to take the club forward if the current owners do not wish to make good on their promises, having done much groundwork with Supporters Direct and our experienced advisers already.
June 10th, 2014.
RT @bobbypurdie: Get a txt in Mexico saying HUFC relegated? What is going on, 1 step forward 5 steps back every time a promise is made!! Fa…— @innesandy 10 June 2014
RT @danlead12: Broke my leg and played for free to keep that club in the league. And for what? I'm embarrassed of that club— @RyanDrane8 10 June 2014
RT @KeithHallSport: What next? Administration or Liquidation for HUFC1939? Just who is left at Edgar Street? The fans are all we have left.…— @daisyproperties 10 June 2014
RT @StigAmmonds: @HTnewsroom I implore @HerefordUnited1 fans not to engage with him. Working together, fans can make our club great again. …— @WebbGwebb 10 June 2014
Owner Tommy Agombar has spoken on Conference expulsion and the future of Hereford United
He told the Hereford United Website: "The club was not in a position to pay the Football Conference's requirement of a £350,000 bond.
"A bond that we could not touch during the season. Neither Macclesfield Town or Salisbury City were put in the same position as we were regarding this.
"I am truly gutted that this situation has arisen, I bought the club in the knowledge that I was buying a Conference Premier side, but the amount of debt that we have discovered, and have to now deal with, has brought about unwanted changes to our initial plans.
"I have today made sure that payments are being made to both staff and creditors, and we will also be sorting out payments to Martin Foyle and HMRC this month.
"I am fully behind the club and will be making every effort possible to get it back to where it belongs, The Football League.
"When I came into the club I had a three-year plan to take the club forward and back into the League, the recent happenings have turned that into a four or five-year plan, but I'm still determined to turn it around for Hereford United. I want us to hit the ground running in the 2014/15 season and get this club back on track on the field and off it.
"I want to prove to United fans that we are serious, and we'll be putting together a team to prove that we are. We will have quality players coming into our club.
"I'm keen to talk to supporters as soon as I can and we will arrange a Fans Forum at the earliest possible opportunity".
The fans were told that the trialists would be playing Pegasus Juniors on Saturday and there were claims that Hereford United would form some sort of partnership with the city side. Pegasus Juniors currently play in the West Midlands Premier Division.
The supporters, who spoke to the Hereford Times outside the ground this evening, added that the trialists were sleeping at the Edgar Street ground. They said trays of eggs had been taken inside.
A small number of Hereford United fans were invited into the club this afternoon by Mark Ellis. The "Tupsley Whites" claim the new director of football told them that the side would be made up of players aged 23 and under - and would become a "selling club".
Remarkably, Hereford United are expected to start pre-season training tomorrow.
Director of football Mark Ellis says United's pre-season training will take place at Victoria Park.
The grass has been cut short by a supporter.
The triallists are expected to be staying at the football club itself.
Westfields have declined an offer of a friendly against Hereford United on Saturday.
It's understood Westfields have a function on Friday night and have suggested the club approaches Pegasus.
RT @HTnewsroom: Hereford MP Jesse Norman says he is ready to help Hereford United, with protection of the ground, the first priority.— @mattyrowe__ 10 June 2014
Sad about Hereford United I remember when I was a little mascot for the club!— @Bec_S_ 10 June 2014
Statement from London Bulls: A meeting is on Saturday, June 14 at noon at Jetlag Bar, 125 Cleveland St, London W1T 6QB.
Adam Peters, co-ordinator for London Bulls, said: “London Bulls is saddened by the announcement that Hereford United has today been expelled from the Football Conference."
HUST Liaison Mitch Stansbury and founding London Bull Nick Vaughan have been in regular dialogue with HUST Chairman Chris Williams over the past week – and have committed to working alongside HUST so all supporters in London and the South East can provide any support they can.
The meeting will aim to provide an update of the situation at the club as well as HUST.
An agenda for the meeting will be sent to supporters in due course and we are hopeful a board member from HUST will be able to attend the meeting or provide a written update.All London Bulls are welcome to this meeting, please confirm via our email address or by replying to this email. We are not dead yet.
The fact 10 year old boy sold his toys to try and save Hereford United actually brought a tear to my eye.— @GemmaLou12 10 June 2014
RT @hufctrust: Our £1 offer for the club remains on the table. We, the fans, are Hereford United.— @Alastairhufc 10 June 2014
Westfields FC Chief executive Andy Morris says it's a sad day for county football.
"I just feel really sorry for all the fans who have dipped their hands into their pockets over the past two years and done so much for the club," he said.
"And you just wonder what has happened and why."
I'm sure every @OfficialShots fan is feeling for @herefordunited fans right now. We know what it's like.. :-(— @latimeralder 10 June 2014
"I cannot understand how a club can get into a situation like that," said Rankine.
Never been a huge follower of Hereford United, but today's news is gutting!— @HughesR1 10 June 2014
Hereford United's fans are distraught tonight.
The news of Hereford United's expulsion from the Conference broke at 4.10pm.
The last 12 months have been awful for the club.
No-one could have imagined this would have happened when David Keyte took over as chairman four years ago.
Michael Rankine, who scored the famous winner against Aldershot in April, said what has happened to Hereford United is "a disgrace" and "not acceptable."
Hereford United legend Chris Price is doing a talk at the club tomorrow night.
Colin Addison is travelling to meet David Keyte. He refers all requests for information to David Keyte and Grenville Smith.
Hereford United legend Ronnie Radford says he is heartbroken.
"We have to keep positive and make sure that the club survives," said Radford.
"The Conference has made their decision and we have to accept it.
"We need to see whether the new investor is still interested in the club."
Hereford United Supporters Trust vice chairman Martin Watson said the fans had been badly let down by the club.
He has demanded answers from Hereford United's mysterious new owner Tommy Agombar.
"The club is the fans and the reality is that the fans will walk away from the club if they don't get a clear explanation," said Watson.
"What we need now is the answers and we need to know what Tommy Agombar is thinking about and what his next plans are."
RT @DomCollins91: Absolutely gutted for the lads and the fans didn't deserve this.. Almost feels all the hard work with no pay was for noth…— @_DavePowell 10 June 2014
@DomCollins91 Devastated for you and all @HerefordUnited1 fans Dom ,hope things turn out well for you in the end ? HUST is the way forward.— @jonboy_103 10 June 2014
Hereford United Independent Supporters Association chairman Keith Dodd says he is gutted with the news.
"Everything we have done has now gone down the drain," said an emotional Dodd.
RIP Hereford United— @tommymezza 10 June 2014
RT @conferencefooty: Confirmation that Hereford United (1939) Ltd has been expelled from membership of Football Conference Ltd with immedia…— @mrbluesky1uk 10 June 2014
Thoughts go to the Hereford United fans... Ooohh well at least Sky Sports have a new channel on route for European football...— @whyalwaysthurks 10 June 2014
@HTnewsroom I will be contacting the council reference the lease on Edgar st if a new club is founded I will ensure they get it #fansfirst!!— @Jimofhereford 10 June 2014
RT @HTnewsroom: Worcester City have said that their thoughts go out to Hereford United's fans. "This should not happen to ANY football club…— @kpedersen03 10 June 2014
For those Hereford and Chester fans who cant get on @conferencefooty's site as it keeps crashing heres the statement http://t.co/UByB4ncgem— @TheCestrian 10 June 2014
Football Conference statement:
The Football Conference Ltd has issued the following statement concerning the membership of Hereford United.
The club has confirmed it will not meet the requirements, to which it previously agreed, set by the Board of the Football Conference Ltd on Friday, 6th June enabling the club to retain its membership.
"As the club was advised at the above meeting, the Board has exercised its unanimous decision that should the club fail to fulfil the requirements it would be expelled from the competition and the Company under Article 5.2.
At the Annual General Meeting on 7th June of the Football Conference Ltd, the member clubs agreed to an alternative Constitution for the 2014/15 season, in case of the above eventuality.
Chester FC will now be reprieved from relegation from the Conference Premier and Hayes & Yeading United FC will be reprieved from relegation from Conference South."
While the elation is understandable I genuinely have heartfelt sympathy for HUFC fans. You will be back. You will have support to do so.— @_DavePowell 10 June 2014
Confirmed that Chester are back in the Conference!— @_DavePowell 10 June 2014
RT @BlueandWhiteCFC: Please don't celebrate. This isn't the way I wanted to stay up.— @_DavePowell 10 June 2014
RT @jimcgreen: Best to follow @_DavePowell for official position from Conference, #ChesterFC and Hereford United but will update as I can— @DannyRileycfc 10 June 2014
@JamboWisard998 time to remind ourselves of what's really important in life. Family, friends etc. May not be this season but we will be back— @MarkSJordan 10 June 2014
Former Hereford United striker Steve Guinan has called the news 'a travesty'.
"Only a few years ago, all of us were celebrating promotion to League One."
RT @guins1: Only a few years ago, all of us @HerefordUnited1 were celebrating promotion to League 1 #whatsgonewrong #travesty http://t.co/x…— @LondonBulls 10 June 2014
@PlayersTaxback @hufctrust will you make a full statement so the fans can hear what you and all the players have been through last season?— @stunic23 10 June 2014
It is a very sad day for Hereford United Football Club.
This is the worst day in the history of the Edgar Street club.
They have been expelled from the Conference.
Former Hereford United skipper Luke Graham says he is speechless.
He is urging everyone connected with the club to join Hereford United Supporters' Trust.
RT @PlayersTaxback: Speechless...everyone connected to the board are to blame...they know who they are...Men and Women...urge everyone #sig…— @joshuuaaa91 10 June 2014
Hereford United's website says the club will be soon releasing a statement.
Hereford United fans have taken to Twitter to vent their anger at the demise of their beloved club.
Colin Addison says it is a very sad day.
"I have just got the news and cannot believe what has happened," he said.
When asked further questions about the situation, he added: "I'm not in a position to say anything."
@HTnewsroom The fans deserve to know who is ultimately responsible for this awful news— @RuislipR 10 June 2014
“@HerefordUnited1: Hereford United FC has been expelled from the Football Conference.” heartbroken— @Ollie_FL 10 June 2014
Conference betting man Alan Algar says Hereford United have been expelled from the Football Conference.
Chester FC likely to gain their Conference Premier place back
Chester FC reporter Dave Powell is Tweeting that Hereford United have been expelled from the Conference.
We are trying to confirm this news.
What next? Administration or Liquidation for HUFC1939? Just who is left at Edgar Street? The fans are all we have left. Will you fight on?— @KeithHallSport 10 June 2014
RT @Exmouthbull: @HTnewsroom @BullsNewsBlog my reason to #bullieve http://t.co/9KbCUQ872T— @BullsNewsBlog 10 June 2014
We are expecting that statement at around 4pm.
@Alan_Alger_ @HTnewsroom Not looking forward to this but hope i'm wrong. At least the agony of not knowing and waiting will be over.— @jamer99 10 June 2014
@HTnewsroom agony for fans up and down the country...much needed clarification will be in the statement... feeling sick with nerves— @LondonBulls 10 June 2014
But dedicated company secretary Lee Symonds, one of the most loyal staff at Hereford United, was working hard in the club office.
Hereford United's new owner Tommy Agombar and chairman David Keyte were not at Edgar Street earlier today.
RT @Alan_Alger_: Football Conference tell Chester Chronicle's Dave Powell that an updated statement on the Hereford United situation will b…— @St3phen_MUFC 10 June 2014
KINGSLEY James cannot wait to get his career back on track after leaving Hereford United to sign for Chester FC.... http://t.co/tseFkbSwyZ— @leonardassis 10 June 2014
RT @CathiJoyce27: @BullsNewsBlog this is bloody painful!!! #HUFC— @BullsNewsBlog 10 June 2014
Any news if we stay in or get kicked out of the conference? #HerefordUnited #HUFC— @hermanshire 10 June 2014
If the conference are having to speak to the football league, sounds very much like this could be the end of HUFC. Hope I'm wrong.— @richyevans19 10 June 2014
RT @essexfootie: The Conference is set to make a statement on the future of Hereford United, inside the next half hour. Indications are it…— @dafyddpont 10 June 2014
RT @essexfootie: Now hearing the Conference will make a statement on the future of Hereford United around 4pm #noblamingmeifitchangesagain— @Corey_HYUFC1997 10 June 2014
WE are watching and waiting for a statement on the future of Hereford United - it's not expected to be good.
HEREFORD United appear to be on the brink of expulsion from the Conference.
Although little, if any, news is coming out of any solid sources, the Hereford Times believes that the funds which had to be cleared into the club account, ready to pay football creditors, yesterday had not arrived.
Consequently, the Conference are thought to be consulting their legal advisers on the next course of action.
Owner Tommy Agombar was at Edgar Street yesterday afternoon, while prospective director of football Mark Ellis told representatives of HUST and HUISA last night that players would be arriving later in the week.
Groundsman Ian Pritchard has claimed on Facebook that his company are owed £20,000 by the club.
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