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London borough cries 'foul' over football club finance

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A recruitment company may have used public funds given to a football club as a guarantee for a loan and put up unauthorised buildings at its ground, Hounslow LBC has said.

CB Hounslow United FC was awarded funding by the council, Sport England, London Marathon Charitable Trust and the Football Foundation to develop facilities at a local site.

The council said it had identified concerns that “relate to financial management by the trustees of CB Hounslow, which is a charity”.

Council officers found additional buildings had been erected at the ground which were occupied by BJMW Recruitment, a company it said was controlled by three trustees of CB Hounslow but was not associated with the club or football.

“The council believes that public funding, held by the charity, may have been used in breach of trust as a guarantee for a loan to BJMW Ltd”, a Hounslow statement said.

“The council shares concerns with the other organisations above that there may be, at least, a serious conflict of interest, and this is currently under investigation.”

Hounslow also found alleged inappropriate use of the site, unauthorised development and sub-lettings, “and potentially significant breaches of planning regulations”.

BJMW refused to comment.

Hounslow’s experience reflects an unhappy history of councils engaging with football clubs.

A police probe is in progress over Northampton BC’s £10.25m loan to Northampton Town FC, while Lewisham LBC’s former elected mayor Sir Steve Bullock became embroiled in a bitter row over Millwall FC’s ground.

Elsewhere, Herefordshire Council at one point had to post a seven-page ‘frequently asked questions’ document about its role as freeholder of Hereford United’s ground when the latter could not pay its debts, while Coventry City Council has been mired in four years of unresolved litigation with the owner of Coventry City Football Club over use of the Ricoh Arena.

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