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MP hails takeover amid fears club could have folded

By Harlow Star  |  Posted: February 13, 2010

From left, Tommy Cunningham, John Barnett, Bill Rammell and Andrew Johnson

From left, Tommy Cunningham, John Barnett, Bill Rammell and Andrew Johnson

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FEARS that Harlow could lose its football club and with it the multi-million pound new stadium at Barrows Farm were at the heart of the decision to bring new owners into the fold. 

Announcing that Harlow Town FC would now be owned by Platinum Sports Management, an agency which looks after the interests of professional sports players, Harlow MP Bill Rammell - who brokered the deal - said the takeover was crucial to preserve the future of the Ryman League club.

 

John Barnett, a partner in Platinum Sports Management, is the new club chairman while former Hawks boss Tommy Cunningham, Barnett's business partner, will serve as a director on the board.

 

The influence of the takeover was seen immediately as the club signed five players and four of them started in the 4-0 defeat at home to leaders Lowestoft Town today (Saturday February 13). They all have Blue Square South or Ryman premier division experience.

 

Former Hawks striker Wayne Cort watched the match. The player, who is the brother of ex-Newcastle and Wimbledon star Carl Cort, is set to re-sign this week.

 

Cunningham is currently reviewing the running of the personnel at the Elizabeth Way club from top to bottom.

 

But he told the Star, boss Marvin Samuel would get every chance to keep the job permanently. “If he can do the job – great. He is inexperienced but everyone has to learn somewhere. I gave [former Hawks boss] Ryan Kirby has first opportunity as a manager. Marvin deserves his chance.”

 

Cunningham said Samuel would have full control over which players come into the football club over the future weeks.

 

At the press conference prior to kick-off, Rammell said that chief executive Carol Bothwell has stepped down completely from the club.

 

Rammell said: "I am delighted that after months of hard work we have been able to make a deal which suits all partners and most importantly will give Harlow Town a fighting chance for the future.

 

“I worked hard for over 10 years to make the case for Harlow’s £11m Gateway grant from the Government which made the building of the new stadium possible.

 

“Following the CVA (Company Voluntary Agreement), I was determined to stop Harlow Town FC from going into liquidation.

 

“While I believe current director Carol Bothwell has done a very good job in challenging circumstances, and both she and Jeff Bothwell have given years of dedicated commitment to Harlow Town FC, it became clear that external investment was required to drive the club forward.

 

“I believe this will happen and as a result of this deal I look forward to seeing the team win many more games at Barrows Farm in the future.”

 

Former chairman Steve Ray, a life vice-president, was also present at today's match to see in the new regime.

 

Before Christmas, Ray and the club’s majority shareholder Jeff Bothwell had personally asked Rammell to intervene to try and save the club, which was heading not only for relegation to the Essex Senior League, but financial oblivion.

 

Harlow Council leaders Andrew Johnson (Con), who joked that Rammell and himself may have been on opposite sides in politics but supported the same teams [Harlow Town and Tottenham Hotspur], told the fans: “The council has worked hard with partners to support Harlow Town Football Club in trying to get through its difficulties over recent months.

 

“The council will continue to work with the club and its new owners in the interests of the town and wishes the new owners and the team success for the future.”

 

Cunningham said: “I am pleased I was able to reach an agreement with Carol and Jeff. I am grateful to Bill Rammell MP for bringing all parties together to reach this agreement.

 

“Throughout negotiations, it was clear that we all had the common aim of keeping Harlow Town FC playing and winning in the town. I look forward to working with Bill Rammell, Harlow Council, the Sports Trust and the team and staff at the club in new and exciting times for Harlow Town FC.”

 

During his speech prior to kick-off today announcing the deal, Rammell paid particular tribute to Mrs Bothwell, who has battled hard to keep the club afloat.

 

Mrs Bothwell said: “I have always worked hard in the best interests of the club and this week’s agreement is no different. I am very pleased my ex-husband has agreed to this deal.

 

“I have every confidence that Tommy Cunningham and Platinum Sports Management will ensure that Harlow Town FC thrives in the future. I would like to thank Bill and Harlow Council’s chief executive Malcolm Morley for all the help they have given me since July.”

 

Mr Bothwell, the club's former chairman, is retaining 10 per cent of his shares, but Platinum Sports Management have first option to buy them should he decide to sell.

 

Mr Bothwell said: “I am delighted to have reached an agreement with Tommy Cunningham and his associates. This I believe to be in the very best interest of Harlow Town Football Club.

 

“Obviously being based in Belfast makes it geographically difficult for me to totally focus on the football club, however as Tommy and his associates have recognised I still can contribute in a big way.

 

“I have always had a good relationship with Tommy and I am positive this will continue. Sometimes we all need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and my honest belief is this transaction is both exciting and a positive move for our beloved football club.

 

“On a personal note I would thank Bill Rammell for his hard work in helping to make this happen.”

 

Life vice-president Ray said: “This is a huge step forward for the club. Working with Tommy Cunningham in a chairman/manager relationship in the past proved so positive that I have no doubt that his return will benefit the club enormously.”

 

Pat Hay, chairman of the Harlow & District Sports Trust, said: “I am pleased that a deal has been made and I’m delighted that the local stadium will remain up and running for the whole community.”

 

 

     

 

 

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3 comments

  • Harlow Star  |  February 15 2010, 10:05PM

    Nicely reported from a very positive press conference,there is now hope for our club!

  • Harlow Star  |  February 15 2010, 10:05PM

    Nicely reported from a very positive press conference,there is now hope for our club!

  • Harlow Star  |  February 15 2010, 2:11PM

    Where is the thanks to the local company LD Financial who stopped the club going bankrupt last year. If it wasn’t for them the club would of gone under then and this sale opportunity would never of happened.

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