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8th tier club temporarily suspend all operations in astonishing statement

8th tier club Staines Town temporarily suspend all operations with immediate effect, as confirmed in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

The club, who currently find themselves bottom of the Isthmian League South Central Division, have accused its landlords Downing LLP of “human rights abuses, child labour and murder,” amongst other things. 

Staines needed a miracle if they wanted to stay up, taking 14 points from 31 games, Chalfont are directly above them in 18th with 18 points from 31 matches and Tooting & Mitcham United are 17th with 25 points from 31 games.

8th tier club temporarily suspend all operations in astonishing statement (Credit: hayleys_footballdiary)

CLUB STATEMENT:

Staines Town Football Club (STFC) regrets to announce that pursuant to third party breaches of Section 54 of The Modern Slavery Act 2015 and other information that has come to light, we are forced to temporarily suspend all primary operations including but not limited to competitive fixtures, until a thorough investigation into the practices of Downing LLP has been concluded by the relevant authorities.

In the first instance, STFC has an obligation under The Modern Slavery Act 2015 to ensure that our business and supply chains are free from human trafficking and slavery. Our actions, as a full member of The English Football Association (The FA), are compliant and fully concur with The FA statement on Slavery and Human Trafficking (See attached below). This statement and the adherence to The Modern Slavery Act 2015, has also been adopted by every other National Football Association within the United Kingdom and its major member clubs.

Of particular interest to those involved at all levels of football, both within the UK and globally, it has also come to our attention through both substantive and vast evidence from various sources, that Downing LLP, who control and fund the operation of our Landlord, The Thames Club, may be involved through its other holdings in the financing of large scale bribery and corruption. This includes the current funding of a Swiss Bank with international operations that has been found guilty in the United States Federal Court of conspiring to launder over $36 million USD in bribes to officials within the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and other football federations. These bribes were in furtherance of a scheme in which sports marketing companies bribed football officials in exchange for broadcasting rights to football matches.

After the guilty verdicts were handed down, The US Attorney’s Office described the scandal by saying, “The business and its employees facilitated bribes and its compliance department turned a blind eye to glaring red flags of money laundering. This Office will hold accountable those corporations or individuals that use the American banking system for corrupt ends. As today’s resolution makes clear, financial institutions that become complicit in their clients’ efforts to launder illicit funds face significant penalties.”

“Today’s resolution sends a strong message to all financial institutions that if they knowingly misuse our financial system to hide their clients’ criminal proceeds or to promote a corrupt scheme, they will be held to account. From the time of the first FIFA-related indictment, the Department has promised to hold accountable the financial institutions involved in this global criminal scheme. We are delivering on that promise.”

“The business pursued the profit it could make laundering corrupt funds derived from a criminal scheme run by powerful FIFA officials. Their behaviour has earned them the equivalent of a red card, and the money the bank now owes the U.S. government is more than double what it admits to laundering. The FBI operates globally with our international partners, and our message to those who may be looking to profit from similar schemes is simple – the penalties for this type of play are steep. Stay within the rules.”

“The guilty party aided corrupt FIFA officials in laundering over $36 million. Officials that are a conduit for criminal activity undermine their own profession and the health of our financial system. The Bank’s admissions show that IRS Criminal Investigation will relentlessly pursue corruption across borders, including financial institutions that facilitate or conceal criminal activity. This should put others on notice that aiding in corruption will cost you millions.”

Elsewhere, we have also been provided with vast amounts of evidence, that Downing LLP, may be involved through its other holdings in the financing of Environmental Crimes, Price Fixing, Deforestation, Forced Evictions, Human Rights Abuses, Child Labour, Slavery, Gender Discrimination and Murder.

Subsequently, we also believe that Downing LLP may be guilty of Fraud through deliberate misrepresentation of its core ethics to induce prospective investors into allocating capital to them. This includes but is not limited to its ESG representations, its UNGC membership and its 12 Responsible Investor Principles.

Amnesty International after years of thorough investigation, described one of the companies that Downing LLP has invested in, in the following terms, ‘They have built their business on a foundation of human rights abuse. They have also profited from abuses that took place during their investment and in some cases these businesses have colluded in the commission of human rights abuses and engaged in and profit from serious human rights abuses.’

As a separate matter we also have reason to believe that Downing LLP may have breached the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) Regulations 2022, as Downing LLP seems to have been involved in obtaining a benefit from carrying on business of economic significance to the Government of Russia as well as carrying on a business with a Government of Russia affiliated entity.

There are further grounds that Downing LLP, may have, through its holdings, made funds and economic resources available to at least one designated person and engaged in activities that circumvent an asset freeze under UK statute.

This follows nearly four years of actions against STFC by Downing LLP through its holdings in The Thames Club, that includes but is not limited to the purposeful derogation of STFC rights granted under the terms of its lease. This has included the removal of several major sources of club revenue and facilities that should have been available to STFC, alongside other negative actions, all of which have been previously well documented by STFC. All of this has had a severe detrimental effect upon the financial running of the club and hence, negative team performances and all other club business.

As a result of the clubs downward spiral, we have suffered defamation, ridicule, threats and abuse, much of which we have had to accept in the knowledge that the general public were not aware of the appalling depths to which Downing LLP operations have seemingly sunk to via its apparent funding of the most heinous, nefarious and barbaric crimes within our society.

STFC believes that the strategy of Downing LLP, (who seem to have proven via its investment holdings in a business that was found guilty of the bribery and corruption of FIFA officials, that they have no regard whatsoever for a community football club or for the greater good of football), is to execute the purposeful and controlled decline of STFC and thus realise the land value at Wheatsheaf Park through development. We have spent vast amounts of our own external capital, with almost no operating income at the Club, to secure the future of STFC through the purchase of the freehold at Wheatsheaf Park, which has thus far been blocked at every turn.

We are also obligated to comply with the legislative position within the provisions and stipulations of Section 54 of The Modern Slavery Act 2015 and as a result, we must reiterate, that until the necessary government and institutional investigations have proven beyond reasonable doubt that Downing LLP is not funding modern slavery, and that STFC, its business and supply chains, are free from human trafficking and slavery, we must temporarily suspend our primary operations until the conclusion of this process, which we expect to be treated as a matter of absolute urgency.

STFC are a multi-cultural and diverse club that has employed staff across all ethnic and religious backgrounds. We have been at the forefront of initiatives that are inclusive of disadvantaged and oppressed communities. It is simply unconscionable that either as individuals or as a FA affiliated member club, that we can continue to operate at Wheatsheaf Park under an insolvent Landlord, whilst they remain managed and funded by the UK investment fund, Downing LLP.

Until absolute resolution is guaranteed, STFC will not go back to Wheatsheaf Park and play beneath the bloodied shadow of the profits of slavery, child abuse and all else. It simply will not be tolerated and is offensive and unacceptable in every form. Everyone associated with such practices must be stopped in their tracks and brought to book with urgency. This needs to start with the enablers of such acts who appear to operate with complete impunity under our noses, here in the United Kingdom.

Turning a convenient blind eye to these abhorrent practices must come to an end. STFC sincerely hopes that The Football Association, The Isthmian League, Spelthorne Borough Council and all other relevant bodies, agencies and individuals will fully support us in this decision, in compliance with both the law and our zero tolerance policy following the red flags raised since conducting the relevant risk assessment of the information provided to us about Downing LLP, whose Chairman and Founder, Nick Lewis and CEO, Tony McGing, have consistently refused the opportunity to discuss and address these matters with us in a private setting.

– STATEMENT ENDS –

Twitter users reacted as the 8th tier club temporarily suspend all operations…

@HawkieHawkins96: Wow…. That’s one heck of a club statement to put out 😳

@jamiebuckland: That’s one heck of a statement.

@JLamps79: Christ, wasn’t expecting that when I opened the link.

@xanaduflipper: Wow 😮 wasn’t expecting that as the reason.

@Seno1886: Bloody hell some statement that 😳

@loftus57: Wow, not what I was expecting.

@JurgLFC: What a mind-blowing situation for a club to be mixed up with. I hope the club can get everything straightened out for themselves, and get the ground away from the alleged criminals.

@rbbrslmn: a real Staine on non-league football

@YesTom: Jesus Christ. Staines fans just keep getting clobbered. The owners of the ground were always shady, but fucking hell!

@LukeAMarsden: Holy shit

@mirkobolesan: And you thought your club had problems.. remarkable statement.

@MarkNealOx: Never nice to see.

@rbbrslmn: didnt expect to read today that a club has had to cease football because it breached the 2015 Modern Slavery Act but here we are. THIS IS ENGLAND 22

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