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First XI
Feb 14, 2010
This has been copied word for word from todays echo. The two page spread on pages 8-9. A Lot of it is what we knew already, we up a creak without a paddle, and most probably a raft as well.

Taxman Targets Blues…Again
(Taken from the Echo, pages 8-9)

This time the club owes £200,000

Southend United owes the taxman another £200,000, it has emerged. The financial blow to the Blues comes just a day after the Echo revealed the club are also being taken to the High Court by a London loan company for unpaid debts. Fans Group the Shrimpers Trust also says it is owed £60,000 by the club after giving t a loan last year. Southend Council leader Nigel Holdcroft fears the entire existence of the club is at stake.

Will knights ride to the rescue of football club?

A former club chairman is being the Blue Knights consortium which wants to take over Southend United. Speaking for the first time, Mark Rubin said he has assembled a group of ten other wealthy businessmen ready with a multi-million pound rescue package.

He has said unless Ron Martin approaches them for a deal, they could take over the club only if it goes into administration, at which point are prepared to pay off the club’s debts and make sure the new stadium at Fossetts Farm goes ahead. Mr Rubin, 59, was chairman of the Blues in 1982 and 1983 and his family owned the club between the 1960s and the mid 1980s

A lifelong fan who still goes to the games each week, he has lived in Southend all his life and now runs GSC Property Holdings. Mr Rubin said “We felt it legitimate to gather together local business people of significant strength to be in a position, if enabled, to take the club forward. “Its obvious there are inherent problems and only by the skin of its teeth has the club not been put into administration previously. “Twice we were ready with funds lodged with our solicitors Jefferies to enable us to move at short notice. We are all football people, but we are also business people. “We have very specific ideas on how a club should be run. “So far, the club has been run as a property development company with a football team attached. “The most important thing is you pay your bills, pay the players and pay Revenue and Customs. “What’s happened this year with players not being paid would never happen with this group of people who would be involved. “We will safeguard the future of the club, but we won’t pump millions in. “We are looking after something owned by the town.”

He describes running the club along the lines of a charitable trust, with the new stadium secured, the consortium members as initial shareholders while the finances are stabilised. In future, he envisaged possibly having a fan as a representative on the board.

Mr Rubin said “If anything does happen and we are able to come to a deal with the administrator, the public should know the club will be back in safe hands. If the worst comes to the worst, we would take the club out of administration and deal with all the parties accordingly. “We would work with Sainsbury’s as a partner. “They would want people of standing running the club.

Keeping Steve Tilson on as manager would also be a priority and assembling a squad of 18 to 20 players under well paid contracts, Mr Rubin added.

The ten man group is reported to be with more than £150 million. They include, Colin Freedman, 66, who lives in North London, cell phone entrepreneur Paul Althaesen, Danish commodity trader Lars Steffensen, accountant Gavin Simons and office service providers Rob Stillwell and Mark Gordon.

A Question of time says money expert

The blues will need an injection of cash to survive much longer, an insolvency expert says. A Report of the club’s finances shows that it made a loss of £2million after tax from July 2008 to July 2009 and a loss of £2.4million the year before.

The Tenon Tracker report also shows the clubs spent £3.5million from 2008-9 on paying staff, compared to £3.3million the year before. Peter Forsey, of RSM Tenon, in Westcliff, said “If a business is not generating cash, eventually it will run out. “There’s a difference between cash and profit. It’s your cash you need to pay your creditors. “With Southend, the chickens are coming home to roost. “They’re going to need something like an injection of cash to guarantee their long-term survival. “If the club continues to make a cash loss, It’s just a question of time. “There is still something fundamentally not right with the business that needs to be address.”

Blues in £200,000 High Court Battle

Fresh fears over the future of Southend United have emerged after the taxman said it is owed another £200,000 by the club. It has also come to light that the Shrimpers Trust is still waiting for its £60,000 loan to be paid back by the club.

A statement on the trusts website said the loan, made in December, was still outstanding, despite a commitment by the club to repay it by the end of June. The Trust accused Ron Martin of ignoring the trust’s concerns. The statement said “The trust is naturally disappointed that, like other known debts, the loan has not been repaid. “We are particularly frustrated that, having been informed by the club the repayment was not likely to be met, the chairman Rob Martin has chosen not to discuss the matter personally with representatives of the organisation.

“As such, the Shrimpers Trust is not prepared to further extend the loan without additional conditions being attached. “These conditions are currently being discussed and trust members will be informed as soon as they are agreed.”

The statement comes as it emerged the club faces another winding up petition by HM Revenue and Customs to be heard at the High Court on July 8 over unpaid £200,000 PAYE contributions. On Wednesday, the Echo revealed a further winding up order for an undisclosed sum had been sought by loan company Charterhouse Commercial Finance Limited which will be heard on July 14.

On his Southend United web blog, Mr Martin blamed the HMRC for being too hasty to proceed to court after the club missed a June 22 deadline to settle the debt. He Said “HMRC were quick off the mark as they are with football clubs and, of course, are entitled to be. Nethertheless I will ensure the entire sum is settled before the hearing and will continue to ensure the necessary finances are in place in order to steer this ship into calmer waters”.

There’s nothing we can do, says leader

The leader of Southend Council fears for the future of Southend United following fresh revelations about the state of the club’s finances. Tory Nigel Holdcroft warned if Fossetts Farm doesn’t go ahead soon the club could find itself homeless. And he said the council was powerless to intervene during the club’s economic woes.

He said “I don’t think there is anything we can do to assist. Certainly with the financial problems it would be inappropriate to use public funds to shore up a private company. “We will have to see what happens and if they survive the latest challenge. If they don’t it’s a question of whether the club continues to exist. Until we know what’s happening it’s difficult to help.”

The council appears to have done all it can to oil the wheels of the planning process, which finally came to fruition in 2008 with the approval of the secretary of state. The Echo revealed last month the council had bypassed the usual financial checks on Ron Martin’s companies before councillors agreed to sell land to one of them and help obtain land for the development of Fossetts Farm development.

All along, the council has said the new stadium, along with its 127 homes, 114 bed hotel and 20,000sq metres of retail space would be a huge boost to the economy of Southend, but that support appears to be waning. Mr Holdcroft added: “Supporters are now losing faith and confidence that anything can be done. “We have worked very closely with the club in respect of redevelopment of Roots Hall and the proposed new stadium. We have responded quickly and positively to approaches made to us, but we can’t respond to something we are not directly in control of. “IF Fossetts Farm doesn’t go ahead it would be disastrous. I would be concerned what security the football club has so far as Roots Hall is concerned. It’s always been my major concern that if they don’t get the new stadium they would be unable to continue to occupy their current site.”