In the last week, it seems that before their final court hearing, Southend seemed to have found a consortium led by Australian investor Justin Rees to take over the Shrimpers after 6 years ridden with debt and relegations under Ron Martin.
Another large club that has been saved from the brink of collapse is Scunthorpe United, a team that had spent 72 years in the EFL, and had a turbulent nine months under the ownership of David Tenure and now looks to have been saved by a local businesswoman Michelle Harness.
Southend United: The Journey to a Takeover
In March of this year, Ron Martin announced plans to sell the club whilst the club was still struggling financially, which saw players go unpaid and a winding up petition by HMRC that was eventually settled.
At first, it looked as if Southend would quickly find a saviour as they would have a group from Kimura Capital, and members from ISM were in advanced talks with Ron Martin; it was revealed that if the takeover were successful, a documentary on the club involving Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's production company would be involved as well as Ray Winston a co-founder of ISM, however the deal would fall through as the Kimura Group believed they were no longer the right people buying Southend United.
Players and staff would still go unpaid, and the bills would continue to pile up, which eventually led to the water being cut off at their training ground in July; Southend were given another 42 days to sell the club by the High Court, and with this came even more issues; however, they were later given clearance to start the National League season.
To help gain Roots Hall a new safety certificate, more than 160 fans volunteered to clean and paint the stadium before their first game of the 23/24 season against Oldham Athletic; they began the season with a 4-0 win and have only had 15 players available to play due to an ongoing transfer embargo for the majority of the ongoing season and a 10 point deduction due to unpaid bills.
In August, the shrimpers were given a final adjournment by the High Court, and it looked as if the days of the club were numbered as fans continued to protest against Ron Martin, September would roll around, and as we entered October new ownership was finally found with a consortium led by Justin Rees agreeing to take over the club who will be fully taking over the football club from November and will allow fans, players and staff to focus on the football without having to worry about the future of their club.
Scunthorpe: A Club Saviour Turned Villain
Scunthorpe United was taken over by David Hilton in January 2023 and was supposed to bring a new lease of life to the club and get them back up and running; in September, Hilton put Scunthorpe United up for sale, making the club available for a potential takeover this was due to ongoing debt and legal battles that he was involved with and that the club were scheduled to be presented with a winding up petition.
Things would soon go from bad to worse for the Irons as Hilton would withdraw all of his funding from the club as he was actively seeking a way out due to the legal troubles that were tied with the club; many potential buyers lost interest and did not want to move forward with purchasing the club.
It also looked as if Scunthorpe would lose their home at Glanford Park and have to play 50 minutes away at Gainsborough Trinty's ground, with it looking like their home game against Brackley Town would be their last, but nothing had been officially agreed between the two clubs.
However, a few days after it was announced that local businesswoman Michelle Harness would be taking over from David Hilton and since she has completed the takeover of Scunthorpe United, hopefully, staff, players and supporters can now focus on the football being played and their hope to challenge for the National League North title and find a way back to the EFL.
Thankfully, Southend and Scunthorpe were saved from potentially ceasing to exist; as we have seen in previous years, other teams haven't been as lucky, but teams wouldn't be put into these predicaments if owners were checked adequately as it is becoming far too regular that football clubs get thrown into financial ruin, and only by the power of their fans have they been able to continue running for so long whilst football associations such as the FA and EFL as well as the National League don't take due diligence to prevent these incidents from occurring and when they do occur teams are left on their own and in most cases struggle to survive.