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Mummy's Little Soldier
Jan 7, 2007
For those of you that do not have access to the Echo, I have typed up some of the sections in the paper.

I hope these are of interest to someone, and also hope it's OK to post them here. If there not - remove them..

I have posted them in the Echo thread, but people might not see them in there so done a new thread!



Southend united future is bright and the recent financial woes just a "blip", says Blues boss Ron Martin.
Speaking at length to the Echo yesterday, an upbeat Mr Martin said he is positive about the club's future and its plans for a new stadium.
He made the claims the day after the club avoided being wound up over a £400,000 debt to the taxman, which Mr Martin said has now been paid.
Mr Martin said: "I'm really positive about the future of the club. When people look back this in the future they will say this is just a blip. The world has been in financial turmoil and I'm not immune to it."
Mr Martin said the banking crisis has complicated the move to Fossetts Farm, which in turn led to the financial problems.
He said: "The plans for the club's future are very much on track. The way things have paned out, it's as good as we could've imagined a year ago. I've no doubts we will succeed, get into the Championship and succeed there. Its just a shame it has been such a complex transaction for this to happen. We have found ourselves having to walk through treacle trying to get the promised land."
The new 22,000-seater stadium at Fossetts Farm was key to the club realizing its potential and securing its future, he said.
"We have a densely populated area with limited competition. And if we can continue the way we are going, we can fulfill our potential. But the ambitions have to be driven. We can get into the new stadium and improve our revenue. There will be a time when Southends finances continue to grow and grow without debt."
For the past six months, criticism has been mounting from concerned fans who were not able to see Mr Martin's vision ever being realized.
While the criticism has become more pronounced, including a protest by fans at a recent home game, Mr Martin has taken it all in his stride.
"When you have a football club, because it's such a publicly branded industry, it gives everyone the right to express their view," he said.
"And some of those views might not be so well-informed. I think we communicate really well with our fan base."
Mr Martin refuted the claim that he could have handled the club's recent difficulties better, but believes he could have handed handled it differently.
He said: "I could have made people redundant and reduce the wage bill, but I chose not to. Would I have had an easier ride if I'd done that? Absolutely, yes. I've made life difficult for myself by looking for investment in the club and keep its progression into the new stadium. The financial meltdown has hindered the club's progress. What we have avoided is administration. That would have meant a lot of people would lose money. I'm not going to please everybody all of the time. In the fullness of time, I will deliver all of what I have said. If I was going to give up the fight for the club's future, I would have done it long before now."


Despite the recent row with Prospects College, Ron Martin is confident the Roots Hall redevelopment plans will go ahead.
The blues current ground has been earmarked to become a sainsbury's supermarket when the club moves to Fossetts Farm.
As part of the development of Roots Hall, Sainsbury's need to buy the Prospects College site in Fairfax Drive.
But earlier in the month, Prospects boss Neil Bates said the deal with Sainsbury's was off because of repeated delays in finalizing terms.
Mr Martin said: "There were delays Mr Bates found unsatisfactory. In the short term, I'm sure that's capable of being resolved. I would like to think that Prospects' interests align with ours, Sainsbury's and the councils. They're nice people and I can't think they would want to stifle the club's future. They understand the situation. It was nothing to do with us," he added.
Mr Martin said the club was making progress over coming to terms with the parade of shops on Victoria Avenue, which are also part of the planned development. He said the Roots Hall site is owned by Roots Hall Ltd, one of his companies, and it is leased to the club, but it pays no rent.


Southend Council's agreement to relax the blues payment of a £6million legal agreement was "Extremely helpful".
A meeting f the council's development control committee saw members change the agreement over the Fossetts development. It was agreed the club could stagger it's £6mill payment towards town center regeneration rather than pay it all at once.
Mr Martin said: "The council has been extremely helpful in recognizing the complications and how they can help to resolve them and deliver the stadium. To defer £3m until we can get value out of the retail park is extremely helpful. I see this as a tripartite relationship between ourselves, Sainsbury's and the council. We need all the three parties to deliver this project."


Blues were never in danger of going into administration, Ron Martin has maintained.
Southend survived their fourth winding-up order in six months on Wednesday morning at the High Court in London after being bailed out by Sainsbury's again.
Mr Martin said the £400,000 debt to HM Revenue and Customs was paid off yesterday.
He said: "I'd imagine the money will be in their account today or tomorrow, long before the hearing next Wednesday. And now our tax bill is entirely up to date."
A challenge to the HM Revenue and Customs over £162,000 of unfair charges led to the winding-up order, Mr Martin claims.
Mr Martin said: "Clubs don't get wound up. I know Chester City did, but they probably didn't have any assets. The usual step is administration. But we have paid our debts. And while I'm in control, that will always be the case."
If sainsbury's had not helped the club out, Mr Martin added, Blues would have been involved with another retailer.
"But they are the perfect partner," he said.
"We are very entrepreneurial and innovative. If we can't find one way round the system, we will find another."
The club still aims to appeal against the £162,000 at a tribunal hearing later this year.


Supermarket giant Sainsbury's has repeatedly come to the rescue of the Blues.
Last November the store paid the clubs £2.1million unpaid tax bill. As well as paying the £400,000 bill this week, it has also guaranteed half of the £6million the club must pay towards the regeneration of Southend as part of the Fossetts Farm development.
But Ron Martin, though grateful for the company's help, said they have no say in the running of the club.
He said: "They are a specialist in their industry. The last thing they want to be involved with is the running of a football club. We've been in contact with them since November 2007, so we have a long-standing relationship with them. Our interests are absolutely aligned. After three years of being in a relationship I would like to think, there's a degree of trust."
Mr Martin described the role of Sainsbury's as a "facilitating role" to help the development of Roots Hall and Fossetts Farm projects.
He added: "Sainsbury's hasn't invested in Southend United. They've provided funds through my property group, Martin Dawn, and other companies in the group."
Mr Martin would not disclose how much Sainsbury's has loaned the club, but said the supermarket giants money is "well secured".


Despite mounting criticism from fans, Ron Martin has urged them to keep faith with his promises of success.
He said supporters did not always recognise the work behind the scenes to secure the club's future.
Mr Martin added: "Supporters get concerned about a whole spectrum of issues, some of which never arise. It's difficult for me, with the complexity of all the plates I've been spinning since the middle of 2008, to ensure our objectives of moving to a new stadium are kept on track. It's things like funding issues, planning issues, legal issues, and construction. People don't always see the amount of investment we have put into the future of the project as well as the immediate shortfall of running the football club year-on-year."
But Mr Martin praised the level of support the club receives and said it should keep the club in good stead should the worst happen and they are relegated to League Two.
He said: "I think we have a fantastic supporter base and the will be loyal to the cause. Inevitably, there will be some drift because people follow success. But the best way of getting success is to keep supporting the club."


The cost of the new stadium at Fossetts Farm will be £40million, Ron Martin predicts, but he said the whole development, including shops, a hotel and more than 100 homes, would probably cost well over £100million.
Mr Martin said: "The stadium was estimated at £45 to £50million, but in this market it's come down. I would like to think we would keep it within the range of £40million. The stadium will be named after a main sponsor.
The funding for Fossetts Farm will come from the sale of Roots Hall to Sainsbury's.
Mr Martin said terms have been agreed to fill many of the shops from "a number of occupiers," but he would not reveal whom.
He also said the new hotel in the west stand would probably be smaller than the 114-bedrooms they have permission for, and would be 60 bedrooms instead.
He said: "What I would like to see is a niche hotel that competes in a different way to the ones planned in town. The people who go there will have to love football."
The aim is to begin work on site in the summer and the stadium is expected to take 17 to 18 months to build, so it will be ready about Christmas 2011.
Mr Martin said: "This entire business plan is predicated on on the new stadium. If we didn't want to progress we could stay here in League One or Two and be OK. But if we want the club to mature we have to have a bigger stadium and better facilities and attract a bigger supporter base."
Mr Martin said he did not think relegation would affect the new stadium plans.
Nice touch by the Echo to print a big portrait picture of RM on front page with headline words "£12m Fraudster" right underneath !!
If we didn't want to progress we could stay here in League One or Two and be OK. But if we want the club to mature we have to have a bigger stadium and better facilities and attract a bigger supporter base."

I thought that it had been quoted in the past that the club could not survive unless it moved to FF.