The continuing Southend saga
Posted by John Beech on November 9, 2009
Having brought the club to the verge of Administration and a ten points deduction over debts of over £2 million, and failed to pay players on time for the fourth month in a row, the club issued the following statement on its website this afternoon:
“For completeness we can confirm that all action by HMRC was dismissed at this morning’s hearing following the release of funds by the Club’s Chairman over the weekend.
This brings the matter to a close.” (1)
Wishful thinking I fear. Too many questions have been brushed aside unanswered.
Perhaps the most important one is “On what basis has ‘the Chairman released funds’?” Are we to assume that one £2.1m debt has simply been replaced by another? Is the new one a ‘soft debt’ from another Ron Martin company? Is it actually likely to remain ‘soft’?
Almost as important is the question of future business strategy. No change in strategic direction will leave the club heading back to the abyss same time next year. So how would a new direction be different? Will the seemingly unstoppable pursuit of Fossetts Farm carry on regardless, with sunk costs of already £1.9m? This seems likely as Ron Martin and his immediate family are the beneficial owners of the Fossetts Farm development (2).
The gainers have been HMRC – they got their money, for which all taxpayers should be happy – and inevitably the lawyers. As for the club, it just seems to back where it was a fortnight ago but without a winding-up order hanging over it. That is a step in the right direction, but if there is still a debt of £2.1m it’s only a very small step.
I just don’t see how the board can see the matter as closed if they are to be seen as having any credibility at all. The brinkmanship of the last few days had already seriously eroded that in any case.