Connect with us

Non League

‘Emotionally draining’ – Council leader gives update on Southend’s future after ‘crunch talks’

‘Emotionally draining’ – Council leader Daniel Cowan gives an update on Southend’s future after ‘crunch talks’ held on Friday.

He had set a deadline of June 21st for club chairman Ron Martin to determine the club’s future.

A due diligence check has revealed that a property development associated with the sale of the National League side didn’t meet the necessary requirements.

Daniel Cowan, the leader of Southend-on-Sea City Council, has issued an open letter, expressing concerns about the plans for new homes at Fossetts Farm, and states that they were not in the best interest of the council or taxpayers.

The developer, Citizen Housing, were given until June 21st to present alternative plans that are financially sustainable and do not pose a financial risk to the public.

The council has also reached out to Southend United and the Conservative Party, which holds a significant number of seats on the council.

Despite a contract being signed between current owner Ron Martin and a consortium led by Australian businessman Justin Rees in December, the takeover process has not been completed, causing frustration among fans, staff, and players.

While Martin planned to move the club to a new stadium at Fossetts Farm, the potential buyers are looking to refurbish the existing ground.

The proposed development includes the construction of around 1,300 homes on Fossetts Hall land, which could generate up to £20m for facility upgrades.

The consortium, known as Custodians of Southend United (COSU), believes that the property transaction is essential for the club’s future.

So Friday 21st arrived, and after a day of talks and everyone associated with Southend United waiting nervously for news, it ended with yet more frustration.

Council leader Daniel Cowan issued a statement at 7:35pm (June 21st), saying: “Since becoming Leader of the Council 32 days ago, I have lived and breathed Fossetts Farm and Southend United.

“Taking over a deal that was 9 months in the making only to find out within days that it couldn’t be made to work has been incredibly difficult.

“No politician wants to watch on, powerless, whilst their local football club implodes and that is why I took the only option available, which was to pivot and try to find a new deal that could work.

“I did not have 9 months, or even 9 weeks, to get a new deal agreed or sign new Heads of Terms, but we have worked around the clock to try to make it happen, and to give the supporters and city much needed transparency.

“Last week we sent a letter to Citizen Housing, setting out the areas that must be satisfied for the Council to continue negotiations on the land and property deal at Fossetts Farm. We gave them a deadline of today, 21st June, and we held positive talks throughout the week around principles, both new and old.

“Late last night we received proposed Heads of Terms from Citizen Housing and whilst they had moved from the deal which failed due diligence, they did not satisfy the criteria we set out last week. We set that criteria, informed by the due diligence, so that the proposal would have a fair chance at passing new due diligence, it could get through planning, and the council wasn’t taking dangerous risks with public money.

“We said that we would walk away if our position was not met and would not return for further talks once we had done so. The future of the club and the finances of the city are important to me but I was elected to lead the city for all residents and my first priority must be to people’s services which is why I have to take a hard line on where our red lines are drawn.

“However, I have always said if there is a way forward that works for the city and saves the club then I have to be receptive to a well-evidenced counterproposal. Today, we had further crunch talks with Citizen Housing and a number of key items moved close enough to our red lines in the last couple of hours that I have approved us moving forward with negotiating new Heads of Terms.
Our terms only being partially met, and at a late hour, means that we need to do further work with external advisers, which if proves to be good will enable us to move closer to developing Heads of Terms ready for new due diligence.

“We have worked every minute possible this week to get this completed but ultimately, we needed the input and acquiescence of others just to get to this point. Though we could not have done more on our end, I hope it was enough.

“This is a trying time for all involved and we remain in regular dialogue with all interested parties including COSU, the developers, and supporters groups.

“Time is against us all but we continue to work in good faith to make this transaction work. I will update again as soon as I can.”

This is how fans reacted as the council leader gives an update on Southend’s future after ‘crunch talks’ held…

@LauraBlenes: Even when you try and step away from the stresses and worries of being a Southend supporter, it’s constantly in your mind. It’s forever playing in a loop and wearing you down. We need good news. I’ve tried my best to remain positive with it but right now it’s damn hard 😞

@Lord_Football: Please. Make it stop. This cannot continue any longer. We’re being held ransom by a failing businessman and his need for a few extra million quid.

@finnmooro7: I’ve now lost every single bit of hope I had for this takeover going through

@RyanStubbs_: Soooo.. long story short, a deal is still some way of being complete. Just tired of it all now. We deserve better.

@Browny_90: Christ, Southend really hanging on in there. Hopefully it’s all sorted out soon for the fans.

@wageadr: ‘Not the best, but not the worst’ is literally acceptable to SUFC fans nowadays. Renegotiating after stating you wouldn’t shows a crack that Ron will exploit, I mean no offence to the tireless efforts but the judge & COSU could both, rightly so, put an end to this regardless

@beardoflechuck: Thanks Daniel, well you’ve got at least 5 days to get that agreed otherwise there won’t be anything left worth saving after the WUP.

@NicaraguaVisit: If the deal isn’t done by 26th, we face being wound up at court.I am not sure judge will grant yet another stay of execution. And even if he does, the NL could impose another 10 point deduction to add to the embargo. Even if we survive, our season will be over before it’s begun

@AndrewStyles5: Thank you for the latest update and all the hard work you and others are putting in to try and bring this saga to a successful conclusion for all concerned. Being a politician you will know that you can’t please everyone.

@meatologist_: It’s good that you seem to be dedicating a huge amount of time to this issue to land on a resolution. I hope you don’t compromise in favour of Citizen Housing and Ron Martin. They should tow the party line and adhere to the rules set out by the council.

@SmiffySUFC: Oh what a shock, Rat and Jr playing games again and moving goalposts at the 11th hour. As they have been doing since the club was put up for “sale”. Hope COSU view this as a positive move forward, it’s hard to see how though & nowhere near what they have requested as yet.

@rob_baumback: This is painful viewing from another fans eyes and having had my club ruined by a clown 🤡! I don’t know how this has been allowed to go on for so long!

@JamManUK2000: Thanks for all the efforts so far. Hopefully we are at least further down the line.

@TaffytheDog: Thank you for the update, unfortunately this is an incredibly complex property deal with the emotional issues of the greatest club in Europe (if not the world). I’ve supported the club over 40 years and if it folds many people can hold their heads high, others cannot. BLUE ARMY

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Non League