STRATFORD Town Football Club could be red carded for good unless they pay back a £250,000 loan.
The club owes Stratford District Council the hefty sum after borrowing the cash 12 years ago to allow the move to its current home on Knights Lane in Tiddington.
The loan was on top of a £500,000 grant from the council, and £1million from the Football Foundation. It was agreed with council chiefs the loan would be paid back over a 25 year period.
But since then just over £10,000 has been paid by the club, which now says it can only afford to repay £200 a month.
At that rate it would take the club 100 years to pay off the remainder of the loan, and council chiefs say it “would probably lead to insolvency” if the authority had to take recovery action.
The club has made no repayments for over eight years explaining to the council it was in a ‘precarious financial position’.
Now councillors are set to decide whether to accept the lower payments or recover the cost as agreed – which would result in a £1,200 monthly bill, which council chiefs say would be likely to cause the ‘winding up of the club’.
Council executive director David Buckland said: “There is no question that the club is a valuable community facility. The football club has been successful in the past five years with two promotions and now has 35 ‘feeder’ teams.
“It is considered by the Football Association to be a well-run community club. It is also a community hub for many local residents for events and meetings.
“A way forward needs to be agreed. It is evident that the club provides a valuable community facility. However they have failed to meet their legal requirement under the terms of the loan.
“No payments have been made in relation to this loan for the last eight years and formal recovery action would probably lead to insolvency.”
At a meeting with the council the club explained expenses had increased and it was ‘struggling to remain viable’, with the club only surviving due to sponsorship money and the help of dedicated volunteers.
Club bosses also repeated pleas which they had made in 2011 calling for the loan to be written off.
Councillors will discuss the matter on Monday (July 31).
One of those expected to be at the meeting is Coun Kate Rolfe who says she is happy for the club to pay back £200 a month, as long as the figure was reviewed in a year.
No one from the club was available for comment at the time of going to press.