A NEW Southend United: Rising from the ashes –
From playing in the second tier of English football to the fifth tier, nobody expected Southend United to rise from the ashes like they are after an immense amount of relegations, growing debt and an owner who lost his love for the club. This is the incredible story of a club who is defying all odds to fight their way back into English League Football.
Southend United F.C is a locally based Essex team that can be currently found playing in the fifth league of English football; the Vanarama National League. Although times were never this rough for the shrimpers. A few years back you could’ve witnessed Southend playing in the likes of the championship and league one and two and even beating the likes of Manchester United in domestic cup tournaments all the way back in 2006.
But the times haven’t been kind to the Essex based team.
From being in an incredible amount of debt to the HMRC for unpaid taxes and wages to an owner mistreating his club in a rumored ploy to demolish the stadium which he owned the land to in hopes to build apartments ontop of – The Shrimpers simply haven’t had the best 14 years ever since their HMRC and administration struggles ever emerged.
Where did the downfall begin?
Credit: Stadium Photography (@davethephoto via X)
The start of 2010 saw the beginning of Ron Martin ( Owner of SUFC ) fail to file and pay for the clubs and stadiums taxes – building up a heavy rapport with the likes of the HMRC. Due to Martin’s lack of care when it came to the clubs finances caused Southend to scrape along the fine line of being admitted into administration multiple times.
Things. Would not change for Southend.
The League One outfit began to lose stature, drop down in league positions every season and would even witness themselves falling from League One to League Two in just a handful of years. Only then for things to get much worse and to fall into the fifth tier of football since 2021. For the first time in 101 years – Southend no longer played in an official English League.
Thanks to Covid-19 and mistreatment by Ron Martin; was Southend doomed to one day be liquidated?
Through doom and gloom, they never stopped believing!
Despite the odds being stacked so heavily against them, the supporters of Southend United stuck with their community through thick and thin. A community built on loyalty and integrity; they stopped at nothing for the past three years to fight against Ron Martin’s decisions and the ten point deduction recently handed to the club.
Credit: Stadium Photography (@davethephoto via X)
From holding protests outside Martin’s Estate to throwing tennis balls onto the pitch mid-match in retaliation to current events – these fans have stopped at nothing to get attention fron local media outlets to help their club gain traction to survive. I had an opportunity to speak to one of these fans.
A Fan’s Perspective
I had the pleasure to speak to some of the fans of Southend United about Ron Martin’s tenture as owner of The Shrimpers; one thing I can say for certain is that Martin certainly won’t be missed. Over 18 of the 22 fans i spoke to had openly admitted that they believed Ron Martin had caused more harm than good for their local semi-pro grassroots team.
One of the fans (Tom Wood) had the following to say when asked on his thoughts about Ron Martin’s tenture at Southend.
I never trusted him I think all Southend fans would tell him that and I found him very arrogant as one of my friends who sadly passed away two years due to Covid use to like taking photos of the players and one day he asked Ron for a photo and he turned around and said why do you want a photo of me and thought that was very rude of him to say thatTom Wood – SUFC Supporter.
Despite being a club so heavily built upon community – Martin clearly never shared the same sentiment as the club once did when it was founded in the Blue Boar pub all those decades ago.
The start of a new era
Despite everything that Southend had went through thr past ten years – the pain of relegation, constantly forming debt, first team issues, transfer embargoes and ownership issues – supporters alike had finally got their prayers answered when one man from the other side of the glove stepped into the spotlight. That man being called Justin Rees; one of the members of The Consortium who wanted to save the club whom he had once supported. With the support of roughly 11 other members of his consortium, Rees was able to begin his attempt to purchase the club from Ron Martin and assist in paying the debt to the HMRC to lift the transfer embargo and give Southend United a fighting chance for promotion despite the ten point deduction.
Ever since Rees and Co have been assisting with paying any outstanding bills owed to players, staff and the courts – Southend have been on an incredible form despite having a squad formed of much older players and a lack of squad depth – The Shrimpers have won 13 out of their 29 currently played games and finds themselves in 17th place with 13 wins, 5 draws and 11 loses. As Of writing the team has won 2 of their last 5 matches. Technically if the clubs ten point deduction was ever removed then Southend would instead be sitting in 9th – Right next to Rochdale and Oldham Athletic.
Despite all of this, the future is beginning to look bright for Southend United Football Club. With new owners, new players and new found money being invested into the club and stadium – with fans willing to chip in too – it’s safe to say that this team based in the seaside city will be back on our TV screens in the English Football Leagues sometime soon.