The Southend Stadium Saga continues
Posted by John Beech on January 1, 2010
First of all, a very Happy New Year to all readers, although I would have to point out that to fans of most clubs I wish this more in hope than expectation.
Southend United Chairman Ron Martin, following the brinkmanship over an HMRC winding-up petition, had, on 20th November, announced:
“…please accept my apologies for not keeping you in the loop which I plan to rectify over the next few days [sic] now that I am able to turn my attention to other Club matters.
I shall, next week, be issuing a series of blogs to cover such subjects as:
• HMRC – how did the position arise
• How was the debt paid
• The “consortium”
• My thoughts about the current squad size
• The future“
The first of this series actually appeared on 26th November (1), giving his views on ‘how the position arose’, and making the interesting claim that ‘Some could argue that Southend could easily have escaped the £2m owed to the Revenue but that is not my way…’ Exactly who the ‘some’ are was not made clear, nor was what he meant by the word ‘escape’.
His next ‘blog’ did not appear until 23rd December (2), when he did make some attempt to address the issues he himself had defined. The debt was paid by “Roots Hall Ltd which was one of my Group companies I set up at the time of acquiring Delancey’s 50% shareholding in March 2006 and is the UK company managing and undertaking the relocation plans“.
A further ‘blog’ appeared on 30th December (3) in which he said “in preparation for the new Stadium and general advancement I have suggested the Trust’s Football Board representation becomes effective at the end of the next financial year“. Before rushing to accept this offer, the Shrimpers Trust might want to contact the Bedford Eagles Supporters Trust (B.E.S.T.), who earlier this month expressed their concerns about their similar Football Management Committee – a question of responsibility without authority having arisen (4).
As I write, Southend United’s website’s Press Talk (5) has yet to mention an article by John Geoghegan in yesterday’s Echo (6 to see the article), which casts a different light on the payment of the HMRC debt. He reveals that the day before the court hearing Sainsbury’s, who plan to redevelop the club’s current Roots Hall site, made a substantial loan, the security for which is £304,000 worth of shares in the club. Should the loan not be repaid, there would be the interesting prospect of a supermarket actually owning a substantial slice of a club whose stadium they were actively seeking to redevelop.
Adding further risk to the already thin ice on which one is skating does not strike me a particularly desirable strategy for a club to pursue.