Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of! Football Finance

Accrington Stanley and AFC Hornchurch

Posted by John Beech on May 31, 2009

I’m just back from a trip to Denmark (hence the lack of posting for the past week).

On Friday I was enjoying a coffee in a café and playing with my new phone. There happened to be a free wifi service, so I thought I’d just check out the football news from the BBC website. As it loaded up, I mused on how things had changed since my youth, when my only access to football news was the back pages of the newspapers my parents took. This ‘jumpers for goalposts’ idyll was somewhat shaken when the page finally loaded – there to jolt me from my nostalgia was the headline ‘Accrington face winding-up order’ (1). The medium may have changed in 40+ years, but the message was depressingly similar!

This is not of course the Accrington Stanley that went under in the sixties but a resurrectionist version. Having finally made it back to the Football League in 2006 from their re-start in Cheshire County League Division 2, they have suffered a bit from ‘Gretna syndrome’. The withdrawal of their shirt sponsor, Fraser Eagle, in May 2008 (2) added to their financial pressures. Last March owner Eric Whalley bemoaned the poor attendances (3) and sold his majority shareholding to general manager Dave O’Neill (4 and 5). O’Neill presumably knew of the debt to HMRC of around £300,000, so hopefully the problem is just one of getting the funding into place. To lose one Accrington Stanley may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose a second would look rather worse than carelessness.

Not that Accrington Stanley are the only resurrectionist club in trouble. AFC Hornchurch, who were only formed in 2005 following the collapse of their over-spending precursor, have gone into Administration (6). Times are tough.

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