Harlow Town chairman rejects olive branch from estranged husband as fears grow for club's future

HAWKS chairman Carol Bothwell has rejected calls from the club’s previous owner and her estranged husband former Hawks supremo Jeff Bothwell to sort out the club’s future.

And 44-year-old Mrs Bothwell has lined up £40,000 of fresh investment which she hopes will save the cash-crippled club.

Jersey News from ITV Channel Television - Carol Bothwell and Anthony Anstead
CONCERN: Hawks chairman Carol Bothwell with former manager Anthony Anstead
She also hopes a new investor will come on board and has also lined up a new shirt sponsor. Pitney Bowes’ deal ended in June.

The Ryman League club are thought to be £200,000 in debt and were hit with a double whammy when they were handed a 10-point deduction in September for agreeing a CVA (Company Voluntary Agreement) to pay off their creditors.

They are rooted to the foot of the division one north table and manager Anthony Anstead resigned a fortnight ago. He was replaced by fans’ favourite Marvin Samuel.

Mrs Bothwell holds regular meetings with Harlow MP Bill Rammell, Harlow Council and Harlow Sports Trust to address the club’s financial predicament.

She said: “I have had a few positives. I was speaking to two parties [about investment]. One investor just wanted to liquidate the club which would definitely mean relegation. That’s not in the best interests of the town. I’m making sure what they want is genuine.”

On the pitch, the run of defeats has alienated fans. "If we can win one, we will get 20 fans back. Unfortunately a lot of the fans are quite fickle – they don’t want to watch if we lose that's boring.

“That’s why I brought Marvin back in. He will bring in better players.”

But Mrs Bothwell has said that if a fresh investor will only come on board if she steps down, she will consider this.

“I would step down for the good of the football club. My interest is the football club – not myself. I want what’s best for the club.”

Mr and Mrs Bothwell are due to meet in the divorce courts next week as their bitter dispute wrangles on.

At the heart of their divorce is the ownership of the club.

Meanwhile, Mr Bothwell fears Harlow Town FC will be wound up next year unless he and Mrs Bothwell can unite and save it.

He wanted to set up an extraordinary general meeting in January and wanted to invite representatives from Harlow Council, the Essex FA and the FA, the Ryman League, as well as Harlow MP Bill Rammell, in an effort to rescue the cash-crippled club.

But Mrs Bothwell has refused his request.
Mr Bothwell (46), who claims he is still the major shareholder, says it will be wound up next summer if the two warring parties do not put aside their personal differences to rescue it.

Speaking from his home in Belfast, Mr Bothwell said that the club’s debt was ‘considerably lower’ than £200,000 – far lower than the £270,000 figure which has been reported previously.

Mr Bothwell has already targeted a £54,000 windfall for the club.

On the pitch Harlow look destined for the Essex Senior League next season as they are 18 points from safety with just 23 games remaining.

Mr Bothwell said: “The club will be in the Essex Senior League next season if we get help or not. I hope Carol takes this olive branch. It would break my heart if Harlow Town FC is not playing football next season.

“We are very proud of the stadium. This is the flagship of the Gateway Scheme. Are we going to let it go down the pan?

“An awful lot of work went in to building it. But the way things are going the club will not be playing semi-professional football next season.

“If the club does not honour the CVA by July it will go out of business. But if everyone works together we can solve Harlow Town FC. I know a lot of these creditors. I can speak to those creditors to collectively reduce that amount. The clubs will still be in debt but not as bad as it could be. It is salvageable now.”

Mr Bothwell rescued the club in 1993 after it was prevented from playing football at its old Sportcentre ground by the Isthmian League and dropped out of competitive football amid huge
cash problems.

And after a year of turmoil it appears history could be about to repeat itself.

Mr Bothwell added: “We have now reached a crossroads. The back biting, point scoring and personality clashes have got to stop, as it is simply having an adverse effect on HTFC. We cannot keep burying our heads in the sand. Let’s face it after all, the common denominator is the well being and future of our beloved HTFC.

“I would like to state for the record that I have no intention of working at the club on a day-to-day basis.

“I must stress that to discuss replacing the existing board would be counter productive as after all they only need support and guidance. Carol has put an awful lot of hard work into the club.”

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