Saturday Night On Channel Five For The Football League
The Decline & Fall Of Leyton Orient
Rape, Disrespect & Fury: The Oyston Family & Blackpool FC
Is It Time For A New Football Club For Newcastle?
Tranmere Rovers & Cheltenham Town Stare Into The Abyss
Hidden away in the back pages of a couple of local newspapers, another football club is dying. It’s a club that has been to the brink before and, unlike, other, bigger clubs that have faced financial problems this season, they haven’t exactly hogged the headlines over the last couple years or so. Farsley Celtic have crossed our rainbow, firstly when their chairman openly considered changing their name to “AFC Leeds” to try and grow their local support and secondly when they fell into serious financial difficulties during the summer over an unpaid a £200,000 bill to HMRC which resulted in their near expulsion from the Blue Square North. It was only at the last minute that a new consortium was believed to have stepped in after the club entered into administration.
Seven months on, Farsley Celtic are still in administration, and the wolves are back at the door. Leeds City Council had offered to lend club president John Palmer the money to buy the club, but the deal through earlier this week. The club is said to owe £750,000 overall to its creditors, and a sizeable amount of this is owed in fees to Mazars, the company that has been managing the administration. The administrators turned down the offer to purchase the club (and had described a second offer to buy the club as for “their own business purposes”, which would seem to indicate that those concerned had been largely interested in the site of their ground), which meant that their game against AFC Telford United this evening was postponed. The administrators now state that there are forty-eight hours for another offer to be submitted to the club, otherwise they will pull the plug.
In other words, then, there is no further funding for Farsley Celtic and, even considering how desperate things were last summer, this is a new low for the club. Perhaps surprisingly, they have been performing reasonably well on the pitch this season. They are seven points above the relegation places and would have been pushing for a play-off place had they not had ten points deducted for entering into administration in the first place. Supporters, however, have been largely left in the dark by everybody, with only occasional press releases from Mazars on the status of current negotiations that have often been scant on the sort of detail that fans have come to expect in the modern era.
Whether the club finds new owners is in the balance. There seems to be no organised supporters group at Farsley that can step in and take action to try and save the club so, at present, all the eggs are in the basket of the council lending the money to John Palmer to complete a take-over, so all eyes will now fall upon the Football Conference who, just than seven days after they expelled Chester City from the Blue Square Premier, may now be called upon to take similar action against Farsley Celtic. In this respect, by withdrawing funding from the club, Mazars could be said to be playing a very dangerous game. There is surely no way that the council would agree to fund the takeover of the club if it was suspended or expelled from the Blue Square North. The death of the club would surely be inevitable, even though some are saying that this would just lead to a two division relegation for a reformed club.
Where, though, would it play? This is the major concern for supporters of Farsley Celtic AFC. At Chester City, the stadium is council owned and there are reasonable grounds to hope that the local council will help a new club, if or when the old one finally withers away and dies. At Farsley, though, it is a different matter. The club sold a proportion of the land around its ground, The Throstles Nest, a couple of years ago and didn’t receive full payment for it. They own the remainder of it still, though, and it seems that the smell of this meat has attracted the vultures. The administrators have no option but to work in the best interests of the creditors, though, and, after months in administration and with no hope of the club being purchased at a price that is agreeable to creditors, it is hardly implausible to believe now that everybody concerned just wants a slice of The Throstles Nest.
Yet again, though, the needs of the supporters seem to be the last thing on the minds of all concerned with the death of Farsley Celtic, and the fact that these same supporters are so much in the dark demonstrates in itself the perils of not mobilising at the onset of financial difficulties. The talk of the club having been “saved” at the start of this season now seems to have been little more than a postponement of what might have happened during the summer and the continuing existence of the club is now in the lap of the Gods. Whether Farsley Celtic can now find themselves some sort of “saviour” in the next forty-eight hours is one question – whether the creditors of Farsley Celtic AFC are actually interested in the club being saved is another one altogether.
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.
Couple of points. The ‘needs of the supporters’ are NOT the concern of the administrators (whether they should be is another argument entirely); as has been noted above they are legally bound to act in the best interests of the creditors, and no-one else. The supporters are merely customers of the business as would be the case in any other instance. Anyone recall Farepak?
On a seperate note, surely it is time for the football authorities to act on the issue of clubs using HMRC as a form of overdraft. How many times do we hear of clubs in debt, where the biggest creditor is the Tax man? Remember, this is effectively stealing from the public; that’s you and me. Shouldn’t it be a condition of membership of the FA that you pay at least your tax bills on time? This seems to me to be particularly relevant these days given HMRC’s rather more ‘proactive’ stance towards football clubs in general. HMRC, I would submit, will have no qualms about forcing Portsmouth (or anyone else) into liguidation in order to maximise the recovery of tax they can secure.
Yet another club who overspent money they ‘never had’ to get themselves into the Conference. Their rise was from several leagues below whilst at the same time not growing their home support beyond that of a Unibond / Regional Leagues club. The fans must blame the Chairman and the board.
Anyone for Lewes, St Albans, Weymouth next ?
[…] Farsley Celtic Are Back On The Brink “Hidden away in the back pages of a couple of local newspapers, another football club is dying. It’s a club that has been to the brink before and, unlike, other, bigger clubs that have faced financial problems this season, they haven’t exactly hogged the headlines over the last couple years or so.” (twohundredpercent) […]
If I’m not mistaken Farsley Celtic was a members club not so long ago and certainly was since the turn of the century. The Directors who came in to take the club forward and take it from its members have done so at the expense of the club itself.The methodology for convincing the members has not been sufficient to bluff regulatory authorities. The talk of the administrators wanting their fees should surely have been agreed at the outset or is this where Farsley keep getting things wrong making assumptions that people don’t need paying. The venom that was spit at the Unibond League Committee during Spennymoors demise and Hydes subsequent promotion has come back to haunt them as the following year when promoted to conference north new levels of arrogance and contempt were displayed by several of the same failed directors. If a demotion of two leagues is what happens there’s no certainty the Northern Premier league powers that be will have them back. So North East Counties it could be for the people who believed Farsley wasn’t a grand enough title and it was only a matter of time before AFC Leeds became bigger than the United of the same city
Nothing to see here…..
Well, they’ve gone now.