There was always something faintly ridiculous about the decision of Rushden & Diamonds FC try and appeal against their expulsion from the Football Conference. Leagues have their rules and, if clubs don’t abide by them, they are likely to run into problems and, whilst the Conference has got many things wrong in recent years, one thing that they have managed to get a proper hold of has been the seemingly perpetual financial shenanigans going on at several of their clubs. There were, of course, rumours that Rushden would somehow manage to pull off some sort of result from the appeal, but with the club’s financial position remaining as dismal as at any point over the last few months and the supporters that were battling to raise funds to save the club having already decided that a new club would be a better use of their time, there was little reasonable prospect of any appeal being successful.
The next step in the process was utterly predictable. With the club no longer in the Blue Square Premier, Rushden & Diamonds were placed into administration by one of its creditors. This seemed like news to the club’s Chief Executive, Steve Beasant, who subsequently stated that, “The club will be placed into receivership via Nene Park owners, based upon their powers under historic legal charges over the club”. Perhaps this was a verbal tic on his part, but the club having been placed into administration would negate the winding up proceedings already brought against the club which were due to be heard to Monday, having already been adjourned by twenty-one days.
The administrator, Alan Clark of the insolvency company Carter Clark, however, has already stated that, “The administrator is not in a position to carry on trading the business”, all of which indicates that the Diamonds’ time is up. Meanwhile, the Southern League – which the club had been provisionally allowed into for next season, “subject to outstanding issues being solved and other conditions” (according to the Southern League’s website, the news section of which hadn’t as of yesterday been updated since the fifteenth of June) – hasn’t released its fixtures for next season yet, and they are not due to be released until the thirteenth of July. The Southern League’s secretary stated on Tuesday that, “Rushden & Diamonds have until close of Wednesday, July 6, to meet this league’s conditions for entry for season 2011-12”. This deadline has not been met (the club has been evicted from Nene Park, and hadn’t announced an alternative groundshare at the time of writing), and this morning Beasant’s comment that, “The Southern League will accommodate us. If I speak to them before close of play at the end of the week, they will welcome us”, was shown up for what it was as the league confirmed that the club would not be playing in it next season.
As such, the SaveRDFC group has become the focus of many former and Rushden & Diamonds supporters. The new club hopes to start playing from the start of the 2012/13 season, and further details can be found on the work that they are already undertaking here, although it seems highly unlikely that the new club will be playing at Nene Park either. Arrangements to share a ground elsewhere are reportedly ongoing, but Nene Park will continue to be occupied next season by Kettering Town. The Poppies will be moving into Nene Park next season, although at the time of writing it seems unlikely that they will be starting the new season there. It is understood that the club has applied to the Football Conference to start the season at Rockingham Road before relocating to a renamed Nene Park on a twenty-five year lease.
Meanwhile, Kettering supporters whose nerves haven’t been shredded enough by the move to Rushden may not find their blood pressure being helped by the reappointment of a familiar name into the managers seat at the club: Morrell Maison. The involvement of Maison, a former bankrupt, at Halesowen Town (where his ownership of the club ended in a Supporters Trust-backed boycott of the club by its supporters) and his arrival at Chester City as that club plummetted towards oblivion during the season before last are obvious causes for concern. Whether it is wise for the club’s owner, Imraan Ladak, to appoint such a potentially divisive figure as the manager of the team at a point in the history of the club when he needs to persuade supporters to trek over the Irthlingborough for home matches is, of course, a matter for considerable speculation.
Meanwhile, the Kettering Town Supporters Trust has decided, after a vote, not to break away and form a new club. The vote was split, but the decision taken by the Trust Board was that a sufficiently large proportion of its membership had not voted in favour of breaking away. It’s an understandable decision, but the result of the vote, the move to Nene Park and the appointment of Maison all combine to give the impression of a club that may have a very uneasy time of things next season. As we noted previously on this site, everything that has happened of late at both Rushden and Kettering has given the very distinct impression of being in the best interests of Keith Cousins and Imraan Ladak rather than the supporters of either club.
There can be little question that yet another summer in non-league football has been thrown into chaos by the goings-on at Rushden and Kettering. That the fixture lists for the Blue Square Premier, North and South were delayed until into July on account of the shenanigans at Rushden is a highly visible reminder of this. Supporters of Rushden & Diamonds will likely start next season with no club at all bar the under-18 team that the new club is planning to field next season, whilst supporters of Kettering Town may have cause to wonder what sort of club they will be supporting come the middle of August. All we can do is repeat an observation that we made a little earlier this summer; that this seems like an unsatisfactory position for all bar a handful of people.
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