Yesterday, two clubs felt compelled to resign from their league, Whyteleafe FC @WhyteleafeFC and Abingdon Town FC @theabbotts_1870 after their ground had been purchased by @iramasports

So I spent the day doing some digging.

Pull up a chair. Have a seat around the fire.
Before starting I want to be clear I'm not alleging any illegal or illicit activity from anyone named in this thread. What I *am* claiming is that there are some unpallatable and greedy business practices in play.

Right, here we go.
@iramasports recently purchased three English football grounds - the grounds of Abingdon Town, Whyteleafe and Brighouse Town.

So why did two of those clubs feel compelled to resign from their league yesterday?
@iramasports In the case of Whyteleafe, we need to go back a few years.
@iramasports Mark Coote, the chairman of Whyteleafe is also chairman of AstroSoccer4U Ltd (AS4U), which previously owned Whyteleafe's stadium. Unsurprisingly, in 2014 Coote decided to install a 3G pitch at their Church Road stadium.
@iramasports However following issues with the pitch's installation, the deal turned sour. At least one installment due to the pitch installation company wasn't paid. The matter went to court. AS4U lost the case. The company was forced to liquidate and the ground was listed for sale.
@iramasports It's worth remembering that while Real Madrid and Juventus were howling that football was doomed because they've exhausted all of the revenue streams, in English non-league the situation was genuinely dire.

Hundreds of non-league clubs have gone over 12 months with zero income.
@iramasports Here enters @iramasports who purchased the Church Road ground for £495,000.

The exact relationship or series of events is unclear but yesterday Whyteleafe said Irama "refused to negotiate a new lease or licence agreement with the club for the 2021-22 season."
@iramasports Just a few hours later after Whyteleafe's resignation, Abingdon Town FC revealed that they too would be withdrawing from their league ahead of the 21/22 season.
@iramasports The club said: "Culham Rd was purchased by Irama at the end of last year after the previous owners wanted to sell.
@iramasports "Despite attempts by the Management Committee to discuss a way forward, Singapore Property Development company Irama, made it impossible to move forward, with ridiculous demands."
@iramasports So who the bloody hell are Irama Sports and what does Ian Rush have to do with any of this?
Irama Sports portray themselves as a sporting network. A place where players, managers, scouts and intemediaries can connect, for a fee of course.

You can also now rent Whyteleafe's and Abingdon's ground, hourly, for between £100-£150.
Irama, the company, is based out of a rentable office building in Singapore but their social media and website indicates a heavy presence in France. The phone number listed on their Facebook has a French dialling code.
The website proudly proclaims a French office in Cannes will soon be open.
The masterminds behind Irama are difficult to find. A "Perry Chopra" is refered to in the Athletic's article. Ian Rush (we'll get to him in just a second) refers to a gentleman by the name of "Amar".
On Irama's website, there is no legal name or company name provided. The website's privacy policy lists the address at one point as "Insert address"

Later we find a business address of: 380 JALAN BESAR, #05-10, ARC 380, Singapore 209000
This finally leads us to a full company name: IRAMA PTE. LTD.

Recordowl says:

"The company principal activity is RENOVATION CONTRACTORS."

"The company secondary activity is REAL ESTATE DEVELOPERS."
"Real estate developers"

Oh dear.
What is not mentioned on the company activity lists, is boat hire.

Irama have a luxury yacht available to hire, via their Irama Sports website.
The booking page links back to a website called Claremont Yachting, with two boats available for hire.

The phone number listed on the Claremont Yachting website, is the same one provided on the Irama Sports Website page.
A company called The Claremont Pte Ltd also resides at 380 JALAN BESAR, #05-10, ARC 380, Singapore 209000.
Back to sport.

Information and/or endorsement videos for Irama from Thierry Henry, Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Gabby Agbonlahor, Frank Sinclair, Neil Mellor, Darren Ambrose, Brett Ormerod and others appear on the company Facebook.
Thierry Henry's video says what Irama and The Ian Rush Foundation are doing is "amazing. Amar, without you none of this would have been possible."
I can't find any official announcement and the first public mentio of the link between Irama and IRF appears to be the Athletic article of February 25th.
Rush told The Athletic: “My Ian Rush Foundation has come here to get the kids off the street and give them a better sort of life. I come from nothing. I want to see kids go in there and see the smiles on their faces.”

Very laudable.
But.. kids were already doing that? Most grassroots teams have a sizeable contingent of youth set ups. Could the £150 per hour price tag be an additional incentive?
A disclaimer on Irama's website says: "Ian Rush is a real estate investor and partner with Irama in all our football grounds shown on this page."
"Ian Rush plays no part in any other part of IRAMA's business unless stated, and nor should he be held responsible for any of IRAMA's acts. Ian Rush and IRAMA own these football grounds and have no affiliation to the clubs and teams using the grounds."
But an article from March in the Liverpool Echo quotes Rush as saying: "I have been working closely with Amar from Irama to create this project, he has the same vision as myself for the future of football and how we can help where needed."
The full basis of that article, is to promote a new link between The Ian Rush Foundation and The Steven Gerrard Academy.

Together, in partnership with Irama, a new SGA facility will launch this September.

In Surrey.

At Whyteleafe.…
Again, I have found nothing illegal. I have found no rules that have been broken. Just shitty opertunistic practices.
Now it's essential to mention that at least some of the community teams playing at Whyteleafe and Abingdon are being allowed to play on.

I'm also not aware of any accusation that Irama is looking to develop housing despite the company activity listing above. However..
Of the three clubs that had their ground purchased by Irama, I spoke at length to a senior offical of one of these clubs earlier today. It was a concerning phone call.
I can't reveal much of the content of the call for risk of compromising their identity, but they did say one very interesting thing:
Irama's main concern was their ROI, their return on investment. It was their mantra and their reason for being. Because, as always in football, it comes down to one thing: money.


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More from @AgainstLeague3

15 Jun
On the @iramasports website you can now book Abingdon's ground for £100 per hour.

They list 14 hourly slots. Fully booked that's approx £500,000 per year.

I'm starting to see why these smaller clubs couldn't 'negotiate' a new lease.
At Whyteleafe's ground, the price increases to £150 per hour peak, £120 off peak.
That sweet sweet 'community feel' - yours for just £150 per hour.
Read 4 tweets
14 Jun
2 clubs forced to resign from their league today, Whyteleafe FC @WhyteleafeFC and Abingdon Town FC @theabbotts_1870

Both had their ground bought by @iramasports and were unable to 'negotiate' a new lease.

Irama Sports proudly proclaim they are "powered by Ian Rush" @ianrush_9
Irama's website says that Rush should not "be held responsible for any of IRAMA'S acts" which is probably for the best considering how toxic the company looks today.
Read 8 tweets
9 Mar 19
OWNAFC promised to revolutionise football.

The reality, after spending your £49? Growing complaints. T&Cs changed to prevent refunds. Subscribers blocked.

It all pales beside new information that has come to light.

Pull up a chair. Have a seat around the fire.
Mr Stuart Harvey is the founder, managing director and sole shareholder of OWNAFC. But you already knew that.…
Stuart Harvey is also the founder, CEO and a shareholder in Righttrades Management Ltd. You may already have known this. But there’s so much to the story that you haven’t heard yet.…
Read 14 tweets

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