The fate of resurrectionist clubs
Posted by John Beech on July 6, 2009
I’m not sure what it is that draws me to following the fate of resurrectionist clubs. Perhaps it’s just the curiosity of seeing whether the new club can make a better fist of it than its predecessor. Maybe it’s the delayed gratification of following their success or failure over a number of seasons. No matter the reason, I am currently working on a research project investigating the determinants of their fate.
A number of them have featured during the 2008/09 season, some for the right reasons, some not. The success stories have undoubtedly been AFC Wimbledon, about to play in the Conference National, and FC United of Manchester (I count them as a resurrectionist club even though their predecessor is not actually defunct!). Both enjoy healthy inherited fanbases and both are well run, so their success was predictable.
Accrington Stanley (who are a resurrection of what was itself a resurrection club) has faced problems, notably a winding-up order from HMRC, narrowly avoided by a takeover (1). Could it just be that the proximity of Blackburn and Burnley mean a club in Accrington is always on a hiding to nothing in the senior divisions?
Newport AFC faced the worst of problems when they reformed from the ashes of Newport County – they could only find a home at Moreton-in-the-March, and, after a brief return home, at the marginally closer Gloucester. Narrowly escaping expulsion from the English pyramid, they have fought their way back as far as the Conference South, just one tier below the point which Newport County was expelled from. A recently revitalised Supporters Trust may well see them eventually get back to whence they came.
The last club to be resurrected in the pre-commercialised era was Maidstone. Their exile was more traumatic than even Newport’s – after 15 years they are still not playing back in Maidstone, a situation which becomes more and more problematic as the years go by. Will the hoped for return bring back more Maidstone fans than lose Sittingbourne (where they currently play) fans? Kent seems a particularly difficult county in which a football club can thrive. Other clubs which have faced insolvency events over the years include Dover, Folkestone Town, Gillingham, and Margate. This season Ashford Town have failed to pay players amid talk of Administration, and Folkestone Invicta (resurrection of Folkestone Town) are dangerously close to calling in the Administrator.
Another club to make the news this season is AFC Scarborough, wound up with debts of £2.5m just over two years ago. Again in exile, they plan to return to Scarborough, from Bridlington (2). A relatively short distance (17 miles) for a relatively short period should not dent their attendance.
Down the coast at Boston, there was good news earlier in the season – the club was allowed to keep cup competition prize money (3), a rare case of a governing body pragmatically distinguishing between different regimes at a club.
Further down, at Canvey Island, who were decimated by the withdrawal of benefactor Jeff King in 2005, the club continues to claw its way back to whence it came.
Worst news was at Hornchurch, where the club, only re-formed in 2005 following the collapse of their backers, has been forced into Administration (4). Details of these latest problems are scant, and if any reader can provide some I’d be very grateful.