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

Chairman Ron’s Little Blue Blog: Prologue

Posted by John Beech on November 22, 2009

Southend United’s Chairman Ron Martin could never be accused of consistency.  First we were told on the club website on 4 November that a full statement about the recent near melt-down of the club in winding-up proceedings would be forthcoming, but this claim was mysteriously airbrushed out.  Warming to his strategy of non-communication of information, he bluntly stated on 9 November that, the debt to HMRC having been settled, the matter was now closed (1).

In a dramatic and unexpected, but most welcome, U-turn, he has now decided to explain what exactly he meant – “I said at the time of discharging the payment to the “tax man” (on the day of the Gillingham FA Cup game) that I would make a fuller statement the following week. The short comment about the formality of the court hearing on the Monday was not it!” (2)  Actually, Ron, I don’t really think that anyone thought that.

What is that has prompted to come good on his promise of a full statement?  Apparently it’s because “A few – not many in truth – have commented that I have “gone quiet” over the past two or three weeks whereas supporters would have expected me to add clarity to recent events “as you always do“.  Ah yes, clarity.  Personally I had expected a uniquely odd view of things direct from Planet Ron, and I haven’t been disappointed.

We learn that “Like all complex legal/banking matters there are often subsequent conditions which need to be addressed, swept up if you like, and the past two weeks I have largely been engaged in doing just that“. Quite so, sweeping up, not to mention air-brushing.

Now that he’s finished sweeping up, “I shall, next week, be issuing [sic] a series of blogs to cover such subjects as:

  • HMRC – how did the position arise
  • How was the debt paid
  • The “consortium”
  • My thoughts about the current squad size
  • The future”

Probably a series of statements on the club website I would guess, rather than blogs where people can post comments.  To be fair, what with him being so busy, he probably hasn’t quite caught up with the interweb thingee.

I must confess though, ‘How the debt was paid’ is the one I’m really looking forward to.

What are we then to expect?  As a taster, Ron tells us “Recent events did not creep up” unnoticed and whilst the inadvertent “use” of HMRC Bank Plc may not have been well received in all quarters the Club’s approach was one of control and expectation of policy promoted by the Football League in discussion with HMRC. In the event, HMRC had the Government coffers to protect and in doing so had no regard for the screamingly obvious commercial position that would facilitate payment or the delays and circumstances of which they were directly or indirectly responsible.

If this gives the impression that the gods are looking down from Olympus and competing with each other to see who can screw our Club the hardest, then so be it. As football supporters we are all cursed with a genetic propensity for moaning but the tax man’s efforts to unglue all that is good about our wonderful Club was beyond the pale. Not just the passion that is created during 90 minutes on a Saturday, or as with today on a Friday night, but the outstanding contribution the Club makes to the community, social inclusion, charities, civic pride and the children of our Town. Do not tell me this would not have been unravelled if HMRC had “won”.

I guess what we might have expected from Ron Martin – all the fault of ‘HMRC Bank plc’ (well, he is certainly as brazen as he is cynical) and absolutely nothing to do with the esteemed Chairman or the board.  His use of ‘inadvertent‘ as in ‘the inadvertent “use” of HMRC Bank Plc” is interesting – had he not noticed that this is the second year running that HMRC has had to take the club to court to get over £600,000 in unpaid taxes etc.?

Ominously he concludes “I know where I am taking this Club and will not be distracted by the detractors“.  And where exactly would that be?  To Fossetts Farm via Hell in a handcart?  Let’s just hope that the wheels don’t unglue.


One Response to “Chairman Ron’s Little Blue Blog: Prologue”

  1. […] Regular readers will know that Southend has appeared in these postings before (see postings passim) and, in particular, I referred to Chairman Ron’s Little Blue Blog. […]

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