Members have called time on the Ivy Leaf Club, Whittlesey just weeks after chairman Mark Smith called rumours of its imminent closure as “idle malicious gossip”.
The decision to close was made by those members attending the club’s annual meeting on Sunday.
“The members this morning decided unanimously to dissolve the Ivy Leaf Club 2019 Ltd,” said Mr Smith in a message posted to social media.
“This process will take a few months and possibly longer.
“The club will remain open during this process and viable club functions will go ahead.”
He added that members – there are thought to be over 300 – who were not present at the meeting will be written to and asked if they agree with the decision.
Mr Smith said those members would be asked to sign a letter confirming the decision.
“It’s a sad day but people just are not using the club.”
On March 13 Mr Smith had also posted to social media that “I have heard some rumours today that the club has closed.
“This is not true and as a result if you have been told this then you shouldn’t believe the idle malicious gossip merchants trying to hurt further a business which is already struggling.”
In that post he added: “For clarity, we are still open, the officers and committee are still working hard to make it a success, for those people with too much time on their hands stop gossiping and structure your free time in helping us please.”
Mr Smith declined to comment when I had earlier asked what happens to the Ivy Leaf club building and assets if the club closes and is sold.
I explained that one member had referred to a potential ‘windfall’ for existing members if that happened.
“Various options which will be discussed at the AGM,” he said.
Mr Smith said it would also “be discussed” at the AGM why the club has frozen new applications for membership.
Club secretary Steve Wren is expected to post a fuller statement today.
Mr Smith had previously listed five reasons why the financial situation at the club has become serious.
1: Membership has fallen considerably
2: Teams playing at the club are down
3: Attendance at club functions has dropped massively
4: As a result, revenue is also down “quite a bit”
5: The Ivy Leaf club “has been hit, like most businesses, by rising utility costs, brewery costs, food, beer and gas and ongoing maintenance to a building that is over 100 years old”
The only bright note, he reports, is that function room bookings “remain at a constant level”.
The Ivy Leaf in Gracious Street is a social club that it owned by its members.
It was registered, afresh, in March 2020 as a Co-operative Society.
He explained to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) at the time of registration that the Ivy Leaf Club Whittlesey Limited was previously registered as Whittlesey Ivy Leaf Club Ltd.
“Bu the previous chairman failed to submit accounts and the club was de-registered I believe last year, he told the FCA.
“Having taken advice from the FCA a new application is needed; this status is imperative to us for general functionality.
“I have amended the name to show fully the new business and will ensure that all accounts are provided to the FCA in the future, and this will feature as a committee agenda item to ensure there are no future issues.
“We are a members social club and membership is available to all the community, we currently have about 1000+ members who are from all social and cultural backgrounds.
“We strive to provide a safe place for people to meet, greet and form strong social bonds in the local community.”
In its latest published accounts – for 2021 – the club reported a turnover of £192,039, with seven employees and 384 members.
Mr Smith told the FCA: “The Ivy Leaf has been a social club for 98 years and all the founding members have passed.
“We support many local organisations by allowing them to hold their meetings for free, these include, The Royal British Legion, Age Concern, The Disabled Club and The Young Techs.
“In addition to this we are working hard to develop relationships with our local council so that we may hold some of their functions at our premises.”
The FCA has been asked to comment on the club’s expected demise.
Ivy Leaf Club, Whittlesey, calls time but closure “will take a few months and possibly longer”.
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