Council starts legal action against football club
Shropshire Council has launched legal action against the football club The New Saints (TNS) after a row over a controversial £80,000 payment made to the club.
The move is the latest step in a bitter dispute between the council and the Oswestry club.
The authority gave the money to TNS in 2012 to help finance a new stand for the club to compete in European competitions.
The council has now confirmed it has opened legal proceedings against the football club to recover the money.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that only £10,000 of the money has been paid back, it has been claimed there is confusion as to whether the money was given as a grant or a loan, leading calls for a full inquiry.
Shropshire Council admitted earlier this month errors had been made and TNS owner Mike Harris has demanded an apology or he will seek damages for tarnishing the club’s name.
A report found the authority failed to ensure repayment grants were being made, due to staff turnover and weak management structures. The report said it is not known whether this was by design or accident.
The council was found to have missed at least eight opportunities to claw back the money after the club failed to make the payments, and crucial records were lost when IT staff wiped computer files through error.
In recent weeks, club owner Mr. Harris has defended the club, saying all payments back were agreed to be voluntary, and the club did actually pay back £10,000.
Mr. Harris said he will put forward a counterclaim if he needs to, and expects the council’s chief executive and leader to resign if they fail, adding that what would have required a simple apology could turn into hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation.