TOP referee Uriah Rennie is having to use all his officiating skills to heal an embarrassing rift in his own Sheffield club.
Rennie, President of Hallam FC, the non-league team with the oldest ground in the world, is trying to keep the peace behind the scenes at Sandygate where there has been a rumpus over voting rights and money.
A year ago lifelong supporter Roger Bell left £400,000 in his will to Hallam.
Several volunteers have since contacted The Star to complain about the way the club, who were relegated last season, is run.
They claimed businessman David Slater was re-elected as chairman at the AGM last month after the voting system was amended at the last minute, allowing players a vote in the contested election.
Today Rennie, the former Premier League ref, rejected claims the constitution was changed saying: “We had a discussion with the committee about who was eligible to vote back in January.
The list of eligible members was compiled by the secretary, a nominated committee member and the treasurer. The list was placed into a legal document. No one could be added. It was ratified by our solicitor and deposited to HM Revenue and Customs. Everyone on the committee agreed to it.”
Chris Taylor, vice-chair, added: “We felt it was fair that players could vote because they are members.”
Another allegation was that Hallam lost money from their 150th anniversary dinner. Taylor said: “It is not always about the money.
“There was a lot of sponsors and former players there; you can’t put a value on that. It was to say ‘thank you’ to a lot of people.” There has also been criticism that Hallam paid over the odds for a boundary wall (a rumoured £11,000) on Dransfield Road. “We got alternate quotes and we did go through the tendering process,” insisted Taylor.
Rennie and Taylor are urging any unhappy volunteers to come and speak to them.
“We want to ensure that whoever has an issue with us can discuss it with us,” said Rennie. “They are not going to be victimised or not heard.
“Everything we do is open, honest and transparent. We want to do the best thing for the club. There is nothing wrong in people challenging us and keeping us on our toes. People embrace change differently; it is how you sell it.
“We don’t want to disenfranchise anybody. It is not about individuals. There has been a mis-comunication. We want to sit down with those individuals and discuss and go through it with them.”
Hallam begin their season tomorrow (Sun) at Handsworth.