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The Decline & Fall Of Leyton Orient
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Is It Time For A New Football Club For Newcastle?
Tranmere Rovers & Cheltenham Town Stare Into The Abyss
Weymouth Football Club, one of the ongoing financial basket-cases of the last three years in non-league football, might have finally reached the end of the line. Reports on the BBC this morning confirmed that, with talks with new buyers having collapsed, the club’s administrators are planning to wind the club up this morning. It will be the first folding of the new season should it come to pass. Perhaps the local businessmen of the area, almost all of whom seem to have been involved in the running of the club over the last three years, finally ran out of patience with the belief that the club could continue to trade.
Administrators were called into The Wessex Stadium a few weeks ago, but talks with consortia hoping to buy into the club have proved to be fruitless. With debts approaching half a million pounds and only Blue Square South football being played, this is perhaps hardly surprising. The administrators cannot allow the club to continue to run up debts while in administration, and the players at the club are already not being paid. If they see no way out, as is starting to become more and more likely, their ultimate responsibility is to ensure that the club is wound up as quickly as possible.
The likelihood is that, should Weymouth Football Club fold completely, their record would be expunged and the Vlue Square South would continue with twenty-three clubs. The overwhelming smell to come from The Wessex Stadium has been one of a rot that set in long ago. There is no reason why a football club with a catchment area the size of Weymouth can’t be successful, but for years the club chased a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that didn’t really exist and with new “investors” often seeming to be more interested in the value of the land upon which their stadium sits than the wellbeing of the club that plays there.
It is this that is probably the most disturbing aspect of the situation at Weymouth. If the club goes bust, then so be it. Football clubs obviously cannot be allowed to continue to spend and live beyond their means and there will be occasional casualties. The big loss, however, is the potential loss of a sports facility – the stadium itself – to the community. Weymouth owns its ground, which will be sold off to the highest bidder should the closure come, and this will immediately hamstring the club’s supporters trust should they decide that they wish to form a new club.
At most clubs that have fallen into difficulties over the last few years, this hasn’t been a problem and it highlights one of the curious paradoxes of stadium ownership. Clubs that play at grounds owned by their local councils and get into difficulty at least have the comfort zone of knowing that the facility will remain and that any new club will be able to continue to play at it. Grounds that are privately owned, however, have to be considered by the administrators to be an asset of the stricken company running the club and have to be sold as part of any liquidation proceedings. The tragedy of Weymouth is likely to be that the town will be left perhaps permanently without a football stadium rather than it being temporarily without a football club.
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.
Like many, I only became really aware of Weymouth through Ian Ridley’s book. I’ve kept half an eye on develoments since but would love to know what happened since to the people featured in the book. Where are the Park Engineering guys? McGowan, Harrison et al and what happened since.
New book maybe?
Spent years trying to get promoted back to the Conference and immediately turned full-time on achieving this……..as you say “chasing a pot of gold”…..shame really because so many other BSP/BSN/BSS clubs who have done just the same have managed to wriggle free
If you recall they were featured in a excellent series of Sunday evening documentaries on BBC2 entitled ‘Football Diaries’ shortly after Ian Ridley took over the reins. About the time Steve Claridge was appointed manager and before Ridley wrote ‘Floodlit Dreams – How to Save a Football Club’.
It’s always sad to see a team going under, but it is perhaps a necessary evil for the sport. If clubs continue to be bailed out, they will continue to be irresponsible. Hopefully, although I somewhat doubt it, this will ‘encourage the others’.
I agree the real tragedy is the loss of the stadium. Once it is lost it will be a long, hard battle to get another one for any team that emerges in the future.
afc weymouth anyone??
[…] as “one of the ongoing financial basket-cases of the last three years in non-league football” (19), and with good reason. I see them as a seemingly never-ending Western, with an ever-changing […]
I was a Weymouth resident for two-thirds of my life, and still occasionally call the town home. The first match I ever went to was at the Wessex Stadium, when my brother’s primary school were giving away free kids’ tickets for a game with Yate Town in January… 1995, there or thereabouts. It was so cold, and the stadium so ramshackle, we left at half-time, and it’s still the only competitive football match of any significance I’ve ever actually been to.
To think that a town of 60,000 with nowhere bigger for twenty miles in any direction cannot sustain a football club is nothing short of astonishing. These days, I work in Basildon – double the size of Weymouth, yet with no local club of any scale. Even then, there’s the paper-thin excuse of everyone supporting the London clubs and West Ham in particular because the town was literally built as an East End exodus. Weymouth doesn’t even have that excuse – it’s about eighty miles to the nearest Championship ground now that Soton have been relegated.
As it is, it’s now fairly obvious that there’ll be an Asda on the site in five years’ time. The people of Weymouth have frankly demonstrated they’re happy with that state of affairs; living now in a town with four 24-hour hypermarkets and no professional football club, I fail to understand how.
So ASDA will claim another victory for grocery market share over sporting tradition.
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