CASH-strapped Malmesbury Victoria has finally been promised an emergency £500 grant from the town council after an about face by councillors who had questioned its survival and claimed supporters indulged in a hate campaign.
Cllr Simon Killane had previously stated he would not back any funding application from the club while it was under its current leadership and had told colleagues it would be outrageous if they did. But by Tuesday’s full council meeting he had changed his mind.
Reading from a prepared statement he said: “I have listened to the comments and pleas for help from club members and I have seen the generosity of our town in coming to their aid.
“It is for these reasons that I have concluded that it is simply not appropriate to penalise the football club members and fans because of the inappropriate actions of a minority.”
The club had originally applied for money to help stage its VicFest fundraiser in July, but at a fiery meeting last month the council decided to defer the bid for more information on how the money would be spent.
On Tuesday football club volunteer Jonathan Davies represented the application and paid tribute to local folk who had come to the aid of the group.
“The support from the community of Malmesbury has been phenomenal,” he told the council. “The club has received about £1,000 in sponsorship and donations. But it is not out of the woods yet. It is still in a very difficult position.”
This time the club was asking for the money to be set against a portion of the rent for the Flying Monk ground, which is owned by the council.
Cllr Kim Power, who had questioned the long term financial viability of the club during the debate on the previous bid back in April, proposed the council agree the grant.
She said a more substantial application had been made with more information.
It was seconded by Cllr Simon Killane, who had pledged not to back any funding applications from the Vics under their existing leadership, which includes his town council colleague Cllr Julie Exton, because of what he termed a hate campaign against him by club supporters.
He said he was glad Cllr Power, mayor Sue Poole and the town clerk had scrutinised the application and asked the club for more detail.
In spite of several requests by Cllr Exton, to bring the debate back to the football club grant, he went on to complain that he had been the subject of numerous accusations on line, on a petition, newspaper websites and on social media of bad or criminal behaviour.
“These are, in my opinion, part of a well-organised and orchestrated hate campaign to destroy my good reputation and force me out of office,” he stated.
Cllr Exton has already lodged a complaint with Wiltshire Council about Cllr Killane. A petition calling for his resignation as Wiltshire Councillor is also circulating the town.
The club has been hit hard financially following repeated flooding of its pitch over the past two winters.