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Shropshire Council launches investigation into £80,000 TNS grant

By Jonny Drury | Oswestry | News | Published:

Shropshire Council is set to conduct an investigation into an £80,000 grant given to The New Saints football club.

The New Saints Football Club

Earlier this month, a private investigation revealed that The New Saints FC in Oswestry was handed a grant to build new seating at their Park Hall ground to allow them to play in European competitions.

Information from private investigator Paul Wiseman was passed to the town council, and it was alleged the club had failed to pay back £16,000 a year for five years.

TNS said at the time they had 'met their outcomes and objectives' with regards to the legacy grant and last week Ian Williams, chief operating officer at the club, insisted the club had done nothing wrong.

Now Shropshire Council leader Peter Nutting has said the council's chief executive and its legal team are looking into the grant.

He said: "If we need to, we are quite happy to send an invoice to TNS and say 'You owe us £80,000 and we want it back' but we need to be sure of our grounds before we do that.

"We need someone with a legal background to really understand it and that is why the chief exec and legal team are looking at it."

Last week Mr Williams came out and said the money awarded to the Saints was from Shropshire Council's £3.5 million market towns revitalisation programme.

The £80,000 was awarded, and the agreement was that the club could be asked to pay back the money under certain conditions in the form of agreed grants from January 2013, to the Oswestry Joint Economic Board, which would identify projects in the town.

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A condition was that the club would be involved in discussions to review funding applications to the board.

Initially the board did not include the football club, which was in the terms of the grant agreement, and went on to approve schemes.

However despite not being involved, the club agreed to reimburse the council on the understanding they would be involved in a more active role.

But that never happened, as Mr Williams explained: "Unfortunately for the people of Oswestry, the OEB never met again and, under the terms of the original agreement with Shropshire Council, this forward thinking programme came to an end last month, five years after it started, so the opportunity for local organisations to apply for funding has been lost.

"From the club’s point of view this is a real pity as we were keen for this programme to work and were looking forward to playing a pro-active role in identifying projects and helping them to be realised for the benefit of the town.

"Looking at the Market Town Revitalisation Programme now it is believed that TNS FC was the only organisation to receive a grant which had to pay the money back to benefit the town."

Jonny Drury

By Jonny Drury
@JonnyDrury_Star

Senior reporter covering Oswestry and Mid Wales.

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