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'We're trying our very best' - North Hampshire football club facing financial 'black hole' after lockdown

Hartley Wintney FC was founded in the late 19th century.

A court case is due to finish today, that could decide whether a North Hampshire football club gets a major Coronavirus insurance pay-out to help stay afloat.

Hartley Wintney FC, which plays in the seventh tier of English football, is currently locked in a battle over lost income.

The clubhouse was forced to shut for four months during lockdown, losing revenue for 11 home games.

Another business, in a row over insurance, is due to finish a test case today - carried out by the Financial Conduct Authority. 

The outcome could dictate whether clubs like Hartley get compensated.

AXA, Hartley's insurance provider, says the club's Business Interruption policy is invalid for the current scenario.

The firm argues the losses have been caused by the government order to close non-essential businesses, not Coronavirus itself.

It says that this decision is not covered by Hartley's policy and will only give compensation if someone on the premises contracted the virus.

However, the club believes it should be reimbursed, arguing the "proximate cause" of the government's lockdown was - in fact - COVID-19.

Speaking to The Breeze, Luke Mullen - Hartley's Chairman - says the club is now facing a financial "black hole", after losing a "substantial amount of money".

He added: "The clubhouse hasn't traded properly since March. Even now, we're fighting to get back on our feet.

"Peoples' lifestyle and habits seem to have changed - we can only open our doors and hope people come back in. We're trying our very best".

Despite this, The Row's supporters have been pulling together to keep the club alive. The Chairman told us that one fan has single-handedly raised over £1,000:

In response, AXA told us it "appreciates" that this is an "unprecedented time" for businesses, but "very few" have the appropriate cover for these circumstances.

It said: "Where there are policies within the AXA portfolio that do cover claims of this type, we are paying these as quickly as we can to make sure those businesses get the financial support provided by their policy when they are in the most need".

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