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Emotional scenes as Southend celebrate takeover with win and biggest crowd of season so far

There were emotional scenes as Southend United celebrate their takeover with a 2-0 win and their biggest crowd of the season so far.

Well then, what a 24 hours for the Shrimpers, they were saved from potential extinction leading up to Tuesday night’s National League clash, announcing a takeover deal with a consortium led by Australian businessman Justin Rees.

This was agreed a day before the club is due in High Court to face a winding-up petition, and this was rounded off with a well-deserved home victory against Oxford City in front of a crowd of 6,075.

First-half goals from Harry Cardwell and Jack Wood put Southend well on their way, and held on to it, with the result leaving them 21st in the National League table with 11 points (10 deducted), a place above Oxford City, and a point from Maidenhead, who sit outside the relegation zone.

Southend boss Kevin Maher said after the win: “I’m immensely proud of everyone connected to the football club. Tonight shows what can happen with the crowd behind us, getting the news before the game and the players performing the way they did made it an extra special night.

“It’s brilliant news. We feel the club’s ready to take off in a lot of areas and hopefully this galvanises everyone. For a lot of years it’s been difficult for everyone at the club but we’re hopeful about what the future can bring and hopefully tonight’s the first step along the way.

“We spoke about not getting caught up in the occasion but living off the energy. We wanted to start fast, we wanted to ask questions of them and put balls in the box.

“To get the goals we did at the times we did was really important, it was a really good performance.

“We could’ve stayed there all night listening to them. We’re grateful for the support they’ve given us, not just tonight but up and down the country all since I’ve been here.

“With my kids here as well, for them to hear it was brilliant. Hopefully there’s many more nights like that to come.”

– Southend United agree a takeover deal with a consortium headed by Australian businessman Justin Rees.

-Deal announced less than 24 hours before the club are due in the High Court to face HMRC winding-up petition.

– Southend say the HMRC debt has now been paid.

– The takeover ends the 25-year tenure of Ron Martin, who announced in March he was looking to sell the National League club.

– Spells the end of a new stadium at Fossetts Farm.

A statement from The Shrimpers Trust read: “The Shrimpers Trust cautiously welcomes the news that an agreement is in place, in principle, for Ron Martin to be replaced as the owner of Southend United Football Club.

“It is a relief that this deal has been confirmed, at the eleventh hour, to safeguard the future of our football club, and that this evening’s National League fixture against Oxford City will not be the last for Southend United.

“Whilst we have had the opportunity to meet with the head of the new consortium, Justin Rees, and have maintained a dialogue with him over a period of time, we are keen for the identities of the other members of the consortium and full details of their proposed ownership structure to be disclosed.

“The ‘Martin Model’ of football club ownership has had its day, and we hope this announcement signals a new dawn at Roots Hall, with all staff being able to look forward to receiving their wages on time, creditors being paid promptly and supporters being fully engaged with club operations.

“Over the course of the past 12 months Southend United supporters have found a voice, whether that is through raising money for our hardworking and dedicated staff, the lobbying of local and national politicians and councillors, marching through the streets of the city, or participating in consultations.

“Everyone deserves to enjoy a period where our club is not under existential threat.

“We are grateful for the efforts of all concerned to broker this deal, but it is frustrating that talks between Ron Martin, Justin Rees, Southend-on-Sea City Council and the city’s Members of Parliament have taken place without the inclusion of any form of formal supporter representation.

“There are also question marks about Ron Martin’s ongoing involvement in any project or development that either directly or indirectly affects Southend United FC and its finances.

“We hope, and anticipate, that those concerns will be addressed over the coming weeks and months as we welcome the new ownership group and look forward to building a productive relationship with them.

“There is an opportunity now for everybody involved in Southend United Football Club to harness the commitment, passion and determination shown during the recent past to create a brighter future for our football club.

“As fans, we stand ready to play our part.”

Southend fans reacted at the first match since the takeover, here’s what some of them said to the BBC.

Paul Lee: “I am absolutely ecstatic. I am over the moon – no more anxiety scrolling through Instagram and Twitter every day to find out whether we’ll have a club come 4 October.”

He adds that he hoped the Shrimpers’ transfer embargo would now be lifted.

Nicky Hardy, a Blues fan for over 25 years, said the last five years had been “pure pain”.

“Ron Martin has just run the club into the ground – embargos, unpaid staff, unpaid players, hopefully this is the end of it – it’s great,” said Hardy, who said he didn’t know anything about the incoming owners.

“Beggars can’t be choosers. I think they will be good; it’s a consortium; I think a lot of local businesses are in there with interest in the club.”

His wife Emily, who added: “There is still that due diligence [needed from the new owners] to do the job effectively and safely and make sure we are run properly, and not just take over and leave it.”

Southend fan Emma said her son Oliver cried at school worrying the club would be liquidated.

She said: “As fans, we weren’t given a lot of information. We heard through lots of grapevines that things probably would be OK, but until we got confirmation tonight, it could have gone either way.”

Oliver, 8, said: “I didn’t have anyone to support, but then my dad got me into Southend so I go to every home game.

“I was very sad. I was crying literally every second.

“[But now] I am very excited because I’ve got a team to support.”

Dani Moore, who waited in the car park for his side’s players to arrive, said: “I am really happy. We’re staying. We’re home. It got done… I love coming to football because I get to cheer on my team and sing loud and proud.”

Tommy Dominguez: “I didn’t think we’d ever see this day. We can now concentrate on actual football, not having to worry about when the players will next get paid and not knowing whether we’ll have a football club.”

Here’s plenty more reaction amid emotional scenes as Southend celebrate takeover with a win and their biggest crowd of season so far…

@ChloeeRose004: Happy for yall as a club with the new ownership and a win, hopefully Southend can come back to the football league where yall belong. I remember when you beat us (Sunderland) on the final day in 18/19 to stay up and the pitch invasion was great, hopefully good times ahead!

@emilyclogg: What a brilliant day/night to be a Southend fan. They’re my local club and I’m so happy to see the recent news, can only imagine the atmosphere in there tonight. 💙

@archefluxx: Southend United lives on, my boy and I get to keep our club. I can’t wait to experience more matches with him in the years to come!

@Michael67624119: Remember this date 3/10/23 the day Southend United was reborn 💙

@JamesBurton90: What a performance. What a team. What a day for the club. Immensely proud. 💙💙💙

@WallySpire: A new chapter 📖

@gafferwoody: Great way to end a fantastic day one to remember and the start of a new beginning we are on the up ⬆️🦐💙😊👏

@gil_moore: What a day- finally light at the end of the tunnel. Well done SUFC supporters

@reevezy21: What a team to get results with all this going on now everything is settled here to the future been a good day to be a blues fan

@callumbond14: Woke up this morning feeling fine with Southend United on my mind. I’ve waited so long to say that. 💙🦐🇦🇺

@james_d_c: Still so buzzing need to sleep #southend we got our club back .

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