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A little gallows humour can go a long way. Kettering Town’s patchwork team played Gateshead in the Blue Square Premier in Tuesday night. Another crowd of under one thousand, another critical evening in a relegation battle that may yet prove to be highly important should the club somehow scrape through its current woes. The team managed to pull itself out of its recent torpor and win the match by two goals to one, but if this match is to be remembered for anything, it is likely that it will be for something quite unprecedented in the history of British football.
Regardless of individual performances on the pitch, the only serious contender for any Man Of The Match award going could only be the controller of the electronic scoreboard at Nene Park, who made his feelings over the clubs recent mismanagement perfectly clear with a very personal message for the clubs chairman, Imraan Ladak, followed with a twist on the theme of a song that has become a crowd favourite in recent years. It may be the first time that “You’re Getting Sacked In The Morning” has ever been expressed in the first person.
Such frustration is understandable considering recent events, and is a further sign the extent to which the rapid decline of this club has had the effect of radicalising the support base. Further protests are expected at forthcoming matches, but this week has also seen more formal moves towards the club, this time from its supporters trust. Thus far, the Poppies Trust has relatively quiet on the subject of the steadily deteriorating situation at the club. This week, however, that silence was broken.
The Save Kettering Town appeal was launched on Wednesday night. It aims to raise money towards safeguarding the clubs future – although it is careful to mention that funds will be held in a bank account entirely separate from that of the club itself – with any money raised to be put towards the return of senior football to the town of Kettering itself, should the club fail to dig itself from the hole in which it currently finds itself. There is also a Facebook page that you can “like” – even if only as a show of solidarity with the supporters of the club – should you wish to. The ideal situation would, of course, be for the supporters trust to be running the club playing back in the town, or with concrete plans in place for a return there. Whether this will ever be possible is, perhaps, a question for another day, but it should be a source of comfort to the embattled supporters of the club that the organisation that is best placed to create the sort of club for the town that all supporters want should be acting pro-actively in this manner.
The club itself, meanwhile, continues on its course of seeming to little else but blame others for the predicament in which it finds itself. A bizarre official club statement which sought to blame DRC Locums, the company with which the club had a sponsorship deal that has, over the last couple of years, had a sponsorship deal which has now run aground. The clubs supporters -or at the very least those that would take an interest in such matters – are surely already aware of this viewpoint on the clubs current position, so what possible benefit could the club take from issuing such a statement? Why, we might reasonably ask, isn’t the time that is being put into blaming DCS Locums being put into court action, if they are so certain of a breach of contract by the sponsors?
The issue of this sponsorship deal is a tug at the heart-strings, which raises more questions than it could ever answer. The statement claims that DRC Locums had a “terrible payment history from 2010/11″, but fails to answer the question of why such a high risk gamble as moving to Nene Park and them spending heavily on new players was pursued. It also fails to answer the question of why what is starting to look like most of the clubs commercial revenue was to come from one source, if that source was known to be unreliable. Small wonder that, the time of writing, only there hundred and fifty people have signed a petition that days little mire than, effectively, ‘blame someone else for what happened to this football club’, a policy that seems almost wilfully blind to the obvious fact that the buck, with regards to the financial solvency of ANY company, ultimately stops with the directors of the company, and not with any third party. The whiny tone adopted by Ladak on this subject in recent weeks has not cast him in a positive light.
All of this will leave the supporters of the club wondering what may happen at the winding up hearing that is due to be heard at the High Court in London on the sixth of February. There has been a recent trend for these hearings to be adjourned upon their first hearing, in order to allow clubs a little more time to get their affairs in order, but this is by no means guaranteed and the only alternatives to the first hearing are to enter into administration or repay their debt to HMRC in full. As such, the next week and a half are likely to prove to be the most important in the history of Kettering Town Football Club. That gallows humour may be needed again in the near future.
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Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.