Embattled Hadlow College ends sponsorship of Tonbridge Angels

Embattled Hadlow College ends sponsorship of Tonbridge Angels
WINNING TEAM: Tonbridge Angels' shirts and Longmead's main stand are emblazoned with Hadlow College and West Kent

The news comes two days after the team had won the Bostik League Premier play-off final in front of a crowd of more than 2,200 at Longmead stadium.

The decision comes against a backdrop of financial difficulties at the Hadlow Group, which runs the college as well as West Kent College on Brook Street.

The group’s former principal Paul Hannan and his deputy Mark Lumsdon-Taylor have resigned amid claims of financial irregularities.

Club spokesman Jim Rowe said the horticultural college had been ‘supporting the club through the good times – a promotion to Conference South – and perhaps more crucially the not-so-good times – a relegation back to the Isthmian League’.

‘It will take some getting used to, not seeing Hadlow College/West Kent College on our shirts as the players take to the field’

The Angels’ Chairman, Dave Netherstreet, said: “It will take some getting used to, not seeing Hadlow College/West Kent College on our shirts as the players take to the field.

“I would like to take this opportunity of thanking the College not only for the sponsorship itself but also all the support they have given us in other areas over the years such as events which are so important to the club.

He added: “Hopefully there will be some initiatives in which we can continue to work together.”

Hadlow Group’s interim principal Graham Morley has admitted that there are issues with funding at the agricultural college and West Kent.

Mr Morley said: “The colleges were experiencing some financial difficulty for quite some time. The financial issues are quite serious, but none are impacting on the students and staff. They are at a strategic rather than an operational level.”

The group acquired West Kent and Ashford colleges in 2014 after K College, which ran five sites across the county, was broken up with debts of £16million.

It turned the finances around, and then invested £26million in a new Ashford College teaching block which opened in September 2017.

But the project has been beset by difficulties – notably involving grants from Ashford Borough Council based on meeting building targets.

Last month the Department for Education paid BAM Construction £1million after a part of the group was ordered by the High Court to pay outstanding debts to the developers.

And Hadlow Group have sold car parks and disused buildings at their Brook Street campus to private developers, reportedly raising around £1million.

Tonbridge Angels will now be actively looking for new sponsors – interested parties are requested to contact the directors at Tonbridge Angels or email angelssponsorship@gmail.com

On Saturday [May 11] the Angels take on Metropolitan Police in a newly established ‘super play-off’ to decide who rises into the Conference South, two tiers below League Two.

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