Members of the Fishermen’s in Eastbourne this week raised a glass to an anonymous investor who has given the beleaguered club a much-needed lifeline.
Chairman Richard Field told a special meeting at the club in Royal Parade on Tuesday night that the investor had pledged £500,000 to buy the freehold.
This money would enable the club to clear growing debts and look forward to a brighter future, Mr Field told the well-attended meeting.
He explained that the investor wished to remain anonymous but said it was a family with strong connections to Eastbourne and the club.
The meeting also voted for a change of name for the club – from the Eastbourne Fishermen’s and Boatmen’s Protection Society to the Eastbourne Fishermen’s Sports and Social Club.
These would enable it to seek membership of CASC (the Community Amateur Sports Clubs scheme) which was introduced in April 2002 and enables local amateur sports clubs to register with the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and benefit from a range of tax reliefs.
A financial cloud had hung over the club for the past few years as a revamped committee struggled to reverse its fortunes.
Although currently trading at a profit, inherent debts left the largest social club in Eastbourne struggling to keep its head above water.
In 2011 a new committee took the club into a Company Voluntary Agreement – agreeing to monthly payments for a two-year period.
That has finished but the club still owed money to the CVA as well as a pressing VAT bill.
“This investment will enable us to clear the decks and also have money for urgently needed repairs,” explained Mr Field. “We can plan ahead now and attract more members.
“We had originally reversed the trend of falling membership but the negative publicity over the past couple of years has seen numbers decline and we need to change that situation.
“A new committee, which will be overseen by two trustees, will now look at the situation in a completely different light. New rules, constitution and policy and procedures will be drawn up to guide us through the next stage.
“This is an important night for the club and one which we hope will lead to a much better future.”