‘Save Ottery FC’ plea over shock debt plight

OTTERY Football Club has been left on the brink of folding by a �14,000 debt peril - just months before its centenary celebrations.

New chairman Brian Barnden revealed this week the historic club and its valued Washbrook Meadows ground and facilities came within a whisker of being lost.

He has appealed to townsfolk to help mark the club’s 100th anniversary next year by seeing it out of the red.

“Three months ago, the whole place was going to fall down, we had no manager, no players and no committee,” said Mr Barnden, giving his personal opinion.

“The people of the town are totally unaware the club is deeply in debt and I find that amazing. We need help.

“Would they rather have a football pitch (at Washbrook Meadows) or a housing or industrial estate down here?

“Losing it would have an affect on the entire town, not just the football club.”

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He added 200 youngsters involved in the club’s youth set-up would be major casualties of its demise. Tipton St John Football Club, which features scores of local players, also uses the ground, handing Ottery a financial boost. The clubhouse is utilised by several groups and hosts a range of social events.

Running costs of more than �1,000 a month need to be paid before a ball is kicked, said Brian. The club is currently run by volunteers. “We’ve got to clear the debt to secure the future, pay the running costs, and improve the place to attract more people to use it,” he said. “It’s on the brink - I want to get rid of the debt. Once we’re back in the black our aim is to remain there. What we need is 140 people with �100 each- but that is easier said than done.”

“Ottery has a good reputation in the football world. It’s a sleeping giant,” he added.

Brian said fundraising events will be organised and appealed to residents for support. Contact Brian on (01404) 41672.