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

Weymouth’s woes

Posted by John Beech on August 31, 2009

The South Coast does not seem to be a successful part of the country when it comes to professional football. Think Brighton, Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth… and Weymouth.

Promotion to the Conference South and then the Conference, and playing in a relatively new stadium, seemed to herald a new era, and this was evidenced by strong gates. However, behind the scenes trouble has been brewing for some considerable time. Current Chairman Ian Ridley has said that the club is within ten days of going into Administration unless £50,000 can be found to hold off creditors who are owed a total nearer £500,000, a very high debt level for a club in Tier 6 (1).

Ridley is in his second spell as Chairman, and wrote of his first spell in the eminently readable, but perhaps ironically titled as things are panning out, Floodlit Dreams: How to Save a Football Club, an absolute ‘must read’ for anyone interested in how football clubs are run at this level of the game. Two messages scream out to me from the book – it is virtually impossible to achieve goal congruence (getting everyone to agree on one organisational goal, and also agreeing on how to achieve it), and trying to fit in a part-time role as a director of a football club along side the demands of a day job puts you on a hiding to nothing.

Ridley must be admired for his openness – how many chairmen would be as up-front as he was at a recent fans’ forum (2)? Yet he has had to contend with what he has termed ‘civil war’ among the fans (3). Some fans, arguing over a smoking zone, seem to have lost sight of Weymouth’s real and very immediate issue – survival.

The saga of problems at Weymouth is a long and complex one, certainly one that I cannot do justice to in a single blog posting. Whatever the causes of the club’s current crisis, and whoever is responsible for them, will be long argued over. Let us hope that the argument is not an academic one, but in just over a week it might become so. To lose a club in a town which should certainly be able to justify a slot in at least tier 6, if not tier 5, would be a tragedy. Weymouth deserves to survive.

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