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Southend fans to protest after being unassured by chairman’s statement amid fears for club’s future

Southend fans are getting set to protest after being left unassured by chairman’s statement amid fears for the club’s future.

The National League side’s supporters’ trust doesn’t expect the club to repay loan on time, after handing out £40,000 in November to help meet wage costs, to be repaid in three months.

Southend are facing an HM Revenue & Customs winding-up petition, but the case is now adjourned to the beginning of March, with chairman Ron Martin saying earlier this week that he was committed to obtaining bridging finance which will “fill the ‘funding gap’, caused by successive relegations and loss of income during the pandemic”.

RON MARTIN STATEMENT:

As has been widely reported, last week the Judge adjourned the hearing with HMRC to 1 March.

I know that fans are anxious about the Club’s finances, and some are worried about the Club’s very survival. I understand those concerns and remain committed to delivering the bridging finance which will fill the ‘funding gap’, caused by successive relegations and loss of income during the pandemic.

The money owed to HMRC is a legacy debt accrued during the period of the pandemic. Those bridging funds will, in part, be applied against the HMRC debt with a view to withdrawing the petition.

This has been a difficult period, but as we continue to work hard to move through it, I would like to recognise the fact our staff and supporters have been first class and have contributed to the success on the pitch. We are fighting for a play-off position and we are through to the last 16 of the FA Trophy. The management and players are doing a fantastic job.

Whilst I am not currently able to outline precise timings, I am conscious of the fans’ concerns and will look to provide a further update as soon as is practical.

With your continued support I believe we can have a great second half of the season.

Ron Martin

Shrimpers Trust’s Rob Craven said on BBC Essex Sport: And just on that on pitch stuff. I don’t think you can underestimate the job that Kevin, Darren, Mark Bentley and all the players have been doing against this backdrop over the past few months. Obviously, it appears to be coming to a crescendo now with last week’s appearance in the High Court. And obviously the fact that the case was marked as final for the 1st of March with that adjournment, and that really brings everything into sharp focus. And I think generally, supporters are really concerned about the future of the football club. Yeah.

Interviewer: And what did you make, Rob, of the I mean, I spoke to Tom earlier on and he said that what statement what did you make of the statement coming out from the football club from Rob Martin yesterday evening?

Rob Craven: Yeah, it’s a tough one. I think that the statement was long overdue, it needed to be made. It would have been really useful if it made a lot earlier. But I think the club might be in a difficult position because there doesn’t appear to be any reassurance there in the statement about what’s happening. There’s a trust. In the last week, we’ve gained very little confidence that the current situation is going to be resolved anytime soon. And obviously, the closer it gets to that 1st of March deadline, the more worried and anxious everyone gets.

Interviewer: Yeah. And as I said to Tom, I think, looking at it, it’s a statement, there’s no definite scene. So it doesn’t fill you with any confidence, does it?

Rob Craven: No, exactly. And that’s why I was going to say it’s really difficult and supporters are really worried about the situation. I think if I look back, I think it was about 2008, myself and a colleague from the trust board at the time, or Trust Committee as it was then, went to the High Court the first time under Ron Martin’s tenure that we were in the High Court with a winding up petition. And I remember being really concerned about the club that day. We’d not been in that situation before. At the last minute, it was adjourned, and Ron managed to show that he had some money that managed to stave off that winding up petition. Of course, over the intervening 14 years, we’ve seen more appearances in the High Court. And as I say, this particular one now with it being marked as final, it really does causea lot of worry for supporters and understand frustrations of fans about the ownership of the club.

Interviewer: Yeah. It’s certainly a habitual situation, without a doubt. And Rob, just looking at the bridging loan, which is reported to be £5 million, obviously the Shrimpers Trust loaned the football club £40,000 back in November. What’s the outcome with that at the moment? Because that was just a loan. Is that been paid back or due to be paid back, or is that going to be part of this Bridging loan?

Rob Craven: Yes, I mean, that is due to be paid back next week, I believe at the start of February. Obviously with the situation that the club is in at the moment, we’re not really expecting that to be paid back on time at this point. And clearly, obviously if the £5m bridging loan comes about, then we would anticipate that it would be paid back then as well as obviously the fact that the chairman mentioned that it discharge the debt to HMRC. And obviously there was a loan made from other club sponsors as well, and obviously that it would cover staff wages as well, which is really important in the intervening period up until the stadium build starts.

Interviewing: Yeah, most definitely.And is there any plans from the supporters group, Rob, whether we’re talking demonstrations, but is there any particular plans from all the supporters groups and moving forward in terms of the football club?

Rob: Yes, we’re planning to meet with other supporters groups hopefully at the start of next week to discuss the current situation. And obviously the fact that with what for 34 days away from, from that next court appearance, which is really important, we’re worried that we’re not going to have a club to support, to put it frankly. And therefore we feel that it’s really important that we get together as a group, as a group and, and discuss what our next step should be, know what our next options are that are available to us.

Southend fans are to protest against the ownership of the club at Saturday’s National League fixture against Eastleigh at Roots Hall.

Tom Gibson is certain he won’t have a club to support should Martin stay on in charge.

“The club will die if Ron stays,” he said, as per Southend Echo.

“It’s when not if now. He might get the bridging finance sorted in time for the next HMRC hearing but we’ll be here again and again until he pushes it too far and we get wound up.

“The last few times we’ve been in court we’re getting ever closer to the deadline until it’s sorted out.

“It’s only a matter of time now until he destroys the club.

“He’s had his chance and he needs to go.

“The club has been slowly dying in front of my eyes for 20 years.

“The final straw for me was staff not getting paid, it’s atrocious and completely out order, especially with the cost of living crisis.”

“Martin Out is the aim now, at all costs.

“As a supporter base I actually think we’ve shown a lot of patience considering everything that has gone on.

“We’ve seen how it would go and he said ‘ let me get on with my job and it will all be alright, if not I’ll walk’.

“But it’s not alright and he hasn’t walked.

“I think we’re at the point now where even if the club did go into administration I don’t think it would be the worst thing in the world.

“I can’t speak for all fans but we’d have an opportunity like Darlington have had.

“I read the interview in the Echo with a fan of theirs the other week and he said he’s had the best 10 years as a Darlington fan since they did go into admin and you’ve seen what Portsmouth have done too.

“But something needs to change because Southend United won’t survive if it doesn’t.

“We won’t be going onto the pitch or anything like that.

“I know there’s always going to be some doubts about whether or not it will work but we’re at the stage now where we’ve got to try something.

“We handed out leaflets at the Solihull game and the response was positive.

“I’m cautiously optimistic we will have good numbers on Saturday.”

As mentioned, Southend fans to protest after being unassured by the chairman’s statement amid fears for the club’s future…

@petergoodwin92: That’s a Ron statement. Light on detail, high on waffle

@NLBIBLE4: A statement basically stating nothing

@BrianRyder5599: Pleased to hear this sounds positive. Us Darlington fans know this situation only to well and it is a worrying time for fans. All the best for the future and hope to be playing you in the League again soon.

@theboygosling: So the HMRC is legacy debt due to pandemic. What about paying staff their wages? That’s here and now debt so how can that not be paid? Are the club generating enough income to cover this? I’m a Notts fan, but hate seeing clubs shafted by unfit owners…this statement is laughable

@SmiffySUFC: Sorry, did I miss the update or critical info? Where is the loan you promised in October was “weeks not months” away? Is there a signed and agreed loan agreement with the lender? The fans and club need to prepare for the very real prospect of administration in about 35 days.

@JoeKneale582: @Carra23 these are ran a little bit worse than Everton

@MattyLOFCEvans: Until Southend United get rid of Ron Martin the club will always be under threat from administration. 35 days and the clock is ticking #sufc

@fatblokemarge: Looking at some of the responses here, what’s the point in saying anything?

@Darlotoon: Hoping for a positive outcome for your fans… keep up the good work @shrimperstrust

@gazp63: From a scunny fan in peace.. hope you guys get it sorted and get past this all the best for the future . We know what it’s like to be in this position..

@rickijones: Jesus Christ. Fans crucify the club for not providing a statement. Then crucify them when they do. This sounds like a holding statement to appease fans as it’s light on detail – not much else they can say really. Still keeping the faith that everything will be ok. 🦐

@intercity144: How does he manage to write a statement without actually saying anything??

@OlliePacey: Zero information. Plenty of waffle.

@onlydaniel1987: I can’t believe he wrote this. We are knackered and our club dangles on the edge. The brilliant news for @SUFCOfficial gives me hope, a fools hope but hope!

@garethrjs: It’s literally just words and waffle. May as well have not bothered!

@_JamesWood_: As always, no accountability & a generally poor and meaningless statement. We are nothing but an afterthought and inconvenience to the Chairman. #RonMartinOut

@frankieadams198: “It’s me hi I’m the problem it’s me” is what it should have said 🙄🙄. More productive than this BS

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