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Reds could lose Stebonheath home over £18k unpaid rent

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 10, 2012

Stebonheath Park

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LLANELLI AFC could lose its licence to play at Stebonheath Park — if outstanding rent of more than £18,000 is not paid to the town council in the next four weeks.

The club, which has had a series of financial problems over the past year, is continuing to have difficulties, as revealed when members of the town council's Stebonheath development committee considered a report on the rental position of the football and social clubs this week.

The report found that as of November 7, the club's arrears amount to £9,147.60 in respect of the football club and £9,109.82 in respect of the social club — prompting members to instruct the council's solicitors to write to the football club to notify it of its breach of contract with regard to non-payment of rent.

Both the football club's licence for the ground and the lease of the social club will be terminated by the town council.

But town clerk Mel Edwards added: "While it is within its rights to take immediate possession of the ground and social club, the council has given the football club 28 days to contact the council and negotiate new agreements and settlement of their arrears.

"During this period the football club, while the company remains a legal entity, will be permitted to use the ground to fulfil their fixtures and the social club will be allowed to continue to trade."

Council leader Carl Lucas said: "The town council has been very patient with Llanelli AFC Ltd with regard to the payment of their rent.

"The council has heavily subsidised Stebonheath Park and has invested in its future with improvements of the football pitch and infrastructure.

"It is very disappointing to see the football club in such dire financial trouble but the council has to do what is right for the council tax payers of Llanelli.

"It is hoped that, with the period of grace we have given the club, a dialogue will take place that will resolve the situation to the benefit of both parties and the club can continue to bring credit to the town."

Following a meeting with the chairman, Nitin Parekh, in July of this year, assurances were given that an immediate payment would be made to the council against the arrears, with the remainder being settled before the end of July.

But the council said these payments had not materialised.

The news comes following other financial woes for the club, who in September were saved from a possible final whistle after paying off debts.

The club had been facing a winding up order in the courts in an action brought by HM Revenue and Customs. But club bosses then said all outstanding debts had been paid.

In October, chairman Mr Parekh made some outstanding payments to players, after they threatened to boycott a Word Cup clash at Haverfordwest — which could have seen the club hit with a fine of £10,000.

But others were still owed five weeks of wages at the time.

It was reported that Mr Parekh had been involved in talks with Welsh Premier League bosses in a bid to solve the club's crisis and save it from obscurity.

The South Wales Evening Post tried to contact a club spokesman, but no one was available to comment.

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