Final final warning for Southend United?
Posted by John Beech on April 14, 2010
Back in the High Court after a 35 day adjournment, Southend have been given a further stay of execution, but this time for only seven days (1).
Chairman Ron Martin’s views on the situation are, as ever, a tad confusing.
After the hearing a club spokesman said “The funds are going to be sent immediately and should be with HM Revenue and Customs within 24 to 48 hours” (2). Quite so, but why once again the club has engaged in such brinkmanship is unclear. Yesterday Chairman Ron had expressed his confidence that the club would avoid being wound up (3), presumably meaning, to coin a variant phrase, “There’ll be a cheque in the post tomorrow afternoon”.
Things had obviously not been running smoothly, as the day before he had blogged “In my efforts and intention to discharge the HMRC indebtedness I have had little to no time today to turn my attention to the intended “third and final phase” blog. My apologies for this but I am sure supporters will understand the importance and I will ensure that the blog is completed and dispatched on Wednesday” (4). Sure enough, up he’s popped (5), beginning with an attack on the Echo for an article which he suggests is “littered entirely with conjecture and supposition, hardly encourag[ing] the reader to take much of what is written as genuine“. It’s not clear which particular article he is referring to. The one I enjoyed said “SOUTHEND United chairman Ron Martin has defended the way he runs the club and insisted it would have been “morally wrong” to allow it to slide into administration. The Blues narrowly avoided being placed into the hands of administrators earlier this month over £2.1million debts to the Inland Revenue, which have now been repaid. Mr Martin said the debt was caused by a combination of players’ wages, losses due to relegation, difficulties in securing finance because of the recession and delays with moving stadiums.He said it would have been morally wrong for the club to dodge paying back the money by going into administration. Mr Martin said: “That is not my way”” (6). I’m sure HMRC will be relieved to hear they are dealing with someone with such a clear view of what is morally right or wrong.
What he was actually so busy doing was pressing on remorselessly with the ever more costly plans for the new stadium, ten years in the offing, and not yet a sod cut. He’d been busy negotiating a deal with the local council’s development control committee “to stagger a £6million payment towards town centre regeneration” and to ask, with joint applicant Sainsburys, for “a revised timescale to pay for a range of community projects agreed when planning permission was given” (5). Again, quite so, if you haven’t to the money to pay your players and you haven’t got round to sending a cheque to HMRC for £400,000 when they are threatening to wind you up within twenty-four hours, you would want a bit of leeway in paying £6m+, wouldn’t you. The logic is unarguable.
The ice on which Ron Martin skates gets thinner and thinner and thinner. Meanwhile the club is five points from safety with four games left to play, and League Two football beckons. Home attendances this season have so far averaged a shade over 7,000. The proposed Fossetts Farm stadium will, if it’s ever built, have a capacity of 22,000. Memories of the folie de grandeur built by George Reynolds, he of Darlington fame, linger on…
If you’re reading this Ron, the above is neither ‘conjecture’ nor ‘supposition’, by the way; it’s commentary.