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Southend owner Ron Martin breaks his silence on club’s future ahead of winding up petition

Southend United owner Ron Martin breaks his silence on the club’s future ahead of a winding up petition set to be heard on March 1st.

Martin wrote an email to BBC Essex, clarifying that “the future is bright for the club” when they can move into a new stadium. Where have we heard that one before.

Southend, who fell to a 2-0 defeat at home to York City in Saturday’s FA Trophy Fifth Round clash, owe £1.4m unpaid taxes and are trying £5m to get bridging financing to improve their situation.

Martin stated that their “legacy debt” consisted entirely of PAYE on player wages during League One and League Two.

“Over time, the club’s wage bill has reduced but the legacy has remained,” he continued in the email, which was read out on air.

“The club arranged and managed a time to pay agreement quite well for some eight months and then missed a payment due at the end of August last year.

“Combined with double relegation [in 2020 and 2021] and a large reduction of central income, this proved to be the perfect storm.”

Tom Lawrence, the chief executive of the club, confirmed in a statement back in January that there was a gap in funding of £2m per year.

They are keen to move from Roots Hall, which Martin called a “cash pit”, to a new stadium at Fossetts Farm.

“We will not let the club be wound-up. And there are reasonable prospects in train to meet the club’s cash needs in time but it will be close,” said Martin.

“Raising the funds is my primary focus. We are advanced but not there yet. Times are tough but I’m not a magician. However, if we get past this current trauma, the future for the club is bright.

“We are advanced with the council, perhaps a little slower than both the club and council would wish, but with a fair wind and continued support from the council, we could be on site [at Fossetts Farm] in the close season, now that the new training ground works are completed.”

Supporters’ groups are in discussions over setting up a phoenix club should the petition hearing go against Southend United.

Southend West MP Anna Firth claims she is hopeful the club will survive, but meanwhile, St John Ambulance aren’t going to staff any more matches at Roots Hall due to unpaid fees.

Simply Shrimpers write exactly was said by Ron Martin in full: “The position is quite simple. HMRC collapsed our time to pay agreement which meant the legacy debt which was nearly all accrued during the pandemic when income was very limited would cost the same. The whole sum fell due to HMRC.

“The amount was made up entirely of PAYE for player wages when the club was in league one and league two. Over time the clubs wage bill has reduced but the legacy has remained. The club arranged and managed a time to pay agreement quite well for some eight months.

“We then missed a payment due at the end of august last year. Combined with double relegation and a large reduction of central income; this proved to be the perfect storm. The clubs cash flow deficit is cirque £2M and that is what we are trying to fix before March 1st.

“We will not let the club be wound up and there are reasonable prospects in train meet the clubs cash needs in time but it will be close.

“Roots Hall is a cash pit. Income once a fortnight for nine months of the year has always meant it needs a beneficiary and for that reason the club will never be sustainable while it remains at RH.

“The relocation plans will fix that for good – allowing us to compete without the constant large cash curls when we get back in the EFL.

“Raising the funds is my primary focus. We are advanced but not there yet. Times are tough but I am not a magician.

“If we get past this current trauma the future for the club is bright. We are advanced with the council (perhaps a little than both the club and council would wish) but with a fair wind a continued support from the council we could be on site in the closed season.

“I know there are many questions people wish to ask me and I will be happy to speak with you very soon.

This is what Twitter users said as Southend owner Ron Martin breaks his silence on the club’s future ahead of a winding up petition…

@JacckCFC: Never his fault is it 😂

@stevedeltasix: 25 years nearly there 💰💰💰💰💰😎

@Markosdayo: Absolute gobbledygook and bollocks once again. So it’s all down to the pandemic that the players staff, external services, other clubs and HMRC haven’t been paid, is it Ron?? Or is it because you are nothing but a two-bit crook and liar?

@jervetheswerve1: Need to believe he will ride this wave, let’s try to be positive it’s better than losing the will to live.

@andy_maul: No Ron that’s not how it works. You had an agreement to repay. You failed but you never re negotiated because new debt was not being serviced correctly. HMRC as difficult as they are will not renege or change without talking. Winding up will always be their last recourse.

@IntercityFC: Whose fault was double relegation and the resultant collapse in income ?

@Jokerclub: Ron , you make me sick

@indie_arcade: If I bought a house I couldn’t afford and kept missing mortgage payments, they’d take it away. Ron Martin doesn’t have an entitlement to run a football club, he can not afford to, I’m sure he wants to but he can’t, end of.

@cheith_eugene: So we owe big money to HMRC but it’s their fault when we don’t adhere to a TTP agreement and they call us in. Joker Ron, you’re a joker! Take responsibility you weasel!

@SibthorpeMark: I think he has cut and pasted his comments from all the previous comments. Bottom line is he has bought it on ourselves by not keeping to the HMRC deal

@Lord_Football: HMRC “collapsed” the TTP because you didn’t pay it. That generally happens when you make an agreement and don’t honour it. Also note…. many other clubs got TTPs for the same reason (Covid) but no one else has failed to pay.

@Ollihsufc: No Ron, YOU collapsed the agreement. #martinout

@JamesWhiff_: As much as I obviously hate Martin, I actually respect him a tiny bit for finally speaking up about the situation. Let’s hope for once in his life, all this stuff isn’t absolute bollocks

@Jasonsnell17: Ron Martin rambling on again. Thing is most of English football is showing signs of recovery after the pandemic. But it’s the ones that where probably not right in the first place are getting bitten again. Just wish Mr Martin would just hold his hands up and admit I was wrong

@CustardSplatPod: Always the victim. It’s never your fault. Martin Out

@ScottWallace_: One for any insomnia sufferers here

@amyjayneaston: it’s never his fault is it

@fan_southend1: Always someone else’s fault isn’t it….

@footyinsouthend: The fact is we’ve been out of lockdowns and all from Covid for nearly two years. Using the Covid card now is pathetic considering we’ve been back at normality since mid-2021.

@299Peter: In October he said the loan ‘was just weeks away’, now ‘it will be close’ to the 1/3 deadline! The man is a liar. The man is killing our club. This man is not to be trusted. The man has no interest in saving Southend United Football Club. @BBCNick @CJPhillips1982 @shrimperstrust

@TerryEd123: With 17 days to go until we are back in court its worrying that we’ve got reasonable prospects to get funds in. You’d hope something more definite was in the pipeline

Initial proposals for stadium 1998
Planning permission 2008
Unfortunately, nothing in relation to this club goes as planned…

@DMouse101: Things Martin isn’t as well as a magician…… honest, trustworthy, decent, moral, well intentioned, believable, decent etc etc.

@NickDart3: HMRC would not just change the payment schedule without telling the club. They are very professional and any change would have been communicated. Ron is out of his depth …

@BryanGOBsmacked: If the problems are purely down to the HMRC cancelling our payment plan last year then why has this also affected payments to staff and others which were being made separately from the HMRC instalments? Nothing has materially changed in revenue terms since Q4 2022.

@djmikejolly: This means that he hopes to be able to do enough by 1/3 to convince HMRC not to wind us up now. BUT be under no illusion that this shit show will continue until he gets his pot of gold. That’s another 2 seasons at least. What sort of club will we have left by then?

@299Peter: Absolutely Mike. ‘Scraping’ through on 1/3 isn’t acceptable. The solution needs to be long term, viable & sustainable or else we will be back to square one in 6/9/12 months! We also need to see sight of a 3/5/10 year strategy for his planned development of the club. He won’t.

@djmikejolly: It’s been clear since 2019 that RM has no appetite (or money) left to fund the club and will do just enough to get it to limp over the line at FF so he can get his money. Do we want to live that way for the next 3 plus years?

@lydylyd: It sounds abit iffy to me … doesn’t sound too negative but doesn’t sound all That positive either :/ @petercrouch you help struggling clubs … here’s one for you to come and help !!

@briancjeeves: Please, please, please, please, please just go! Go now, this minute! #SUFC 🦐 #MartinOut

@steveg671: From the bridging loan last October being, “weeks away “, to now saying “it will be close ” – That is beyond concerning, he can dress it up however he likes, but the blame for this mess lies at his door. Maybe try with a complete disregard towards HMRC for starters!

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