It was as rapid as it was unexpected. Farsley Celtic thought that they had dodged the bullet of a High Court winding up order brought by HMRC. They were forced into administration by the Australian brewing giant Coors – another one of their creditors – earlier this week to prevent the winding up order from going through today, but the Football Conference threw a curve ball at them has thrown them into an – if anything – even more serious crisis than the one that they were already in. They were notified this morning that they were to be demoted from the Blue Square North for falling into insolvency between the league’s AGM and the start of the season.
It isn’t the first time that this has happened, but there is an added sting in the tail for Farsley Celtic. The semi professional leagues have already announced their fixtures for the coming season. Farsley Celtic have no league to drop into. This isn’t a merely an issue that will surely now result in the closure of a club that was playing Blue Square Premier football just two years ago. It also causes the lower reaches of the English football pyramid a headache. Do they start next season’s Blue Square North with an odd number of clubs? This would almost certainly cause complaints. Someone would have a free weekend every week, and someone would miss out on potentially lucrative Christmas and Bank Holiday matches.
The alternatives would be to save someone from relegation, or to utilise the space which exists in the Unibond League at present because of the recent collapse of Newcastle Blue Star, but both sets of fixtures would have to be completely rewritten. Whether this would be possible just a few weeks before the start of the new season is open to question. Such matters may, however, be rendered irrelevant should Farsley seek to appeal against the Football Conference’s decision through the Football Association. The FA have the right to over-rule the decision, though the matter of whether they would, whilst in administration, be able to afford any sort of legal challenge to the Football Conference is also questionable. It worked for Northwich Victoria earlier this summer, though.
It seems likely that, in view of the logistical problems that this would result in, the club will be allowed to start next season, providing they are still a going concern by then. The Football Conference, however, have rules that everyone is aware of. Once Farsley entered into administration they had, in the eyes of their own rules, no option to but to expel them. They may well be keeping their fingers crossed that the FA appeal the decision. They would have been seen to be upholding their rules, the fixture list would remain in tact, and Farsley would end up being punished, in that they would almost certainly be deducted ten points for the start of the season. The alternative is the abyss.
And then, in a few weeks time, perhaps we can get on with the 2009/10 football season.