What's going on at Staines Town FC?
It's... a lot.
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What's going on at Staines Town FC?
I dropped a link to a press release that had gone viral from Staines Town FC at the bottom of a newsletter at the end of March and didn’t think a lot about it. The club’s allegations, that their landlord had broken the UK’s Modern Slavery Act and was responsible for a litany of crimes against humanity and the environment, were, to put it mildly, wild as fuck.
I praised the club, currently in the eighth tier of the English soccer pyramid and will be relegated to the ninth if they resume play next year, for sticking it to its landlord, did no further research and hit publish. That was a mistake on my part because as The Sun made clear at the time (emphasis mine):
STAINES FC have shut down after alleging — with no evidence — that their landlords “may be involved through its other holdings in the financing of human rights abuses, child labour, corruption and even murder”.
“The fact that STFC is ceasing operations has nothing to do with TTC or Downing. Nor is it connected to the alleged breaches of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (Act) by Downing. This is a construct and does not bear scrutiny not least because none of Downing, TTC or indeed STFC qualify as a ‘commercial organisation’ for the purpose of the Act as they do not meet the financial thresholds set by the secretary of state. The remainder of the wild allegations made by Mr Dixon should be viewed in the context of the above.”
The reason I’m mea culpa-ing my newsletter with a reach of about 40 about an insignificant soccer club in England is because late on Saturday night my time, the club dropped another press release and holy shit.
You’ll probably need to read it in full for yourselves, but when I got to this part:
Despite numerous amounts of communication from us to all of these bodies [the FA, the Isthmian League and the local council] in relation to this extremely serious matter, not one of them has had the morality or decency to offer STFC the courtesy of a proper reply.
Alarm bells started ringing. Uh oh, this is clearly a crank writing letters to the editor that, once upon a time, would’ve ended up in a bin and are now broadcast to the world at large.
Let’s find out how we got here. The club was bought by its current ownership in 2018:
Staines Town have announced that the current chairman and owner Matthew Boon has agreed a takeover of Staines Town FC Limited, the Bostik League Premier club’s parent company, to Fulcrum Sports Investments, who will assume a controlling stake in the football club.
Boon will retain a shareholding in the football club and move into the position of Honoury President.
The consortium is chaired by Joe Dixon, whose Board is made up of Paul Jaszynski (CEO), Yiu Yin Yau, William Pitisongswat and Shipeng Fu.
The Boons, Alan and then Matthew, ran the club from the late 90s until the takeover. Joe Dixon seems to be the man penning the batshit press releases. According to Companies House, Paul Jaszynski was appointed to the board of Fulcrum Sports Investments Limited on 26 April 2018 and resigned on 11 December 2018, which is a concerningly short time. He was appointed to the board of Staines Town FC as a director on 8 June and resigned this position on 11 December as well. He is currently a director of Wellwood London Ltd, which sells (good luck guessing the next two words) beard oil. If this is his LinkedIn profile, his time with Wellwood seems to have ended last year, and he’s now Regional Sales Manager for PayProp, an automated payment and reconciliation platform specific to the lettings industry.3
The other three are interesting because they never joined the board in an official capacity. Dixon is the sole director of the club. There are three men that go by these names on LinkedIn in the London area. Yiu Yin Yau and William Pitisongswat both attended the University of Warwick Business School, both doing a Masters in Management, which suggests they probably know each other. It’s not obvious if I have the right Shipeng Fu or how he would fit in or how any of these guys would fit in with Dixon.
“They will do it their way and there will be changes. They are already getting out to see the local businesses and have a blueprint in place. It’s an ambitious one but they are well connected and know a lot of influential people. There will be a bigger board of directors and three of the board members are Asian businessmen.”
Pitisongswat identifies himself as a sovereign wealth adviser, currently working for the Qataris, but previously in a position “developing relationships with Qatari, Kuwaiti and Saudi institutions and family offices” in September 2018, which might be relevant after the jump.
The grace, the beauty of sports
What's going on at Staines Town FC? (continued)
According to a random article on a Bulgarian news site, “Dixon is close to the Kuwaiti royal family” and we can conclude this is true to some extent because there’s a picture of him on the official Kuwaiti royal family Instagram from November 2019 at a race track.
It turns out Dixon has some history in Bulgaria (via Google translate):
The possible new owner of Levski, Joseph Dixon, has one match for CSKA. It is in early April - 2012. Stoycho Mladenov's team lost to Spartak (Pleven) with 0:3…
In the game for the "reds" then came the rehearsals Joseph Dixon and Raul Martins, but the two did not show anything special on the field…
Dixon is a starter, but replaced at the break…
After this match, it became clear that there was no place for Dixon in the "Army". Whether he will find one at Gerena - as the owner of Levski, remains to be seen.
In May last year, Dixon announced he was going to buy Levski Sofia4. The club competes in the top division in Bulgaria and have a pretty impressive historical CV. It’s worth noting that Staines Town were not exactly setting the world on fire on the pitch at this point.
He claimed to have unspecified financial backing from the US - not Kuwait - to buy the club, thanks to his unspecified previous projects in the US, and develop the land (which the Google translate acknowledges is state-owned) to build a mall, a canny business move in the year 2021, and casually dropped $250 million into the conversation.
He finished with:
Someone had told me that there was an article that I was fleeing Bulgaria and would not return. I'm here to finish things. Let actions speak louder than words.
Shockingly, the deal did not go through.
Piecing together the facts, we have a former semi-professional soccer player (oh and former Manchester United junior) turned businessman named Joe Dixon. He managed to make some connections in the world of London finance, primarily through three businessmen, one of which worked in sovereign wealth funds. Dixon, Jaszynski and the businessmen were able to pool together enough money to buy Staines Town FC from the Boon family. Jaszynski left shortly after and Pitisongswat changed jobs. Three years later, Dixon unsuccessfully tries to buy Levski Sofia in May 2021. Then in March 2022, he loses his absolute goddamn mind and accuses his landlord of violations of the Modern Slavery Act and ceases operations of Staines Town FC. Dixon hasn’t had a good last twelve months.
What follows is speculation and/or fan chatter. Charitably, perhaps he knew such accusations would blow up and then give him the necessary publicity to find a buyer and exit a negative £200,000 position. My guess is that the funding has dried up for Staines Town, because its obviously not going anywhere on the field under his ownership, or he owes money to people you don’t want to owe money to. The beef with the landlord might be telling, either as a failed deal to takeover the freehold and develop it, which might have been the whole point of this exercise, or just as a convenient target for the flailing, out of control Dixon.
Both the club chairman and secretary resigned a few weeks ago. There seems to have been an offer with the fans to takeover, which Dixon poisoned with his theatrics about Downing in March and also no one in their right mind would want to deal with Dixon. The Combined Counties League has resorted to posting on a fan forum5 to find someone to talk to about the upcoming season. That a portion of the field belongs to next door, well, who even knows at this point. I don’t think Dixon thinks he is any way responsible for the current mess.
In summary, it looks like Dixon is done, there’s no more money so there won’t be any more Staines Town FC.
We’ll just leave it here with this quote from the most recent press release:
We doubt that even the starriest eyed of publicity hungry stargazers can shine a ray of light on what has taken place in this regard and in astrological terms, if the reclaimed penalty area at Wheatsheaf Park can now be used as a metaphor, then around the rings of Uranus, someone will definitely be taking another few inches in the box tonight.
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I should probably have at least Googled Downing LLP, which is not some faceless landlord entity but actually a fairly well known, large financial company.
The mandatory training I did at a previous job on the Modern Slavery Act was obviously impactful.
I dunno, man, I’m just telling you the facts.
There’s an hour long cut of the press conference that I haven’t watched on Facebook if that’s your thing. Even the translator sounds like she knows he’s full of shit. I’m not even sure Dixon believes it at this point.
I didn’t even know these kinds of things still existed.