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Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Treading the football tightrope

By Glenn Speller
BBC Essex sports producer

Ron Martin
Shrimpers chairman Ron Martin still has much work to do

When does a football chairman smile? Well, probably when he has escaped entering administration with five minutes to spare.

That was the time at which Southend United's Ron Martin told HMRC the club had the £2.1m in unpaid taxes and would be able to pay the debt by this Friday (6 November).

I doubt Mr Martin is one who likes the sense of drama in these kind of circumstances, but I could not help myself in raising a wry smile as the details were read out in Court 55 of London's High Court.

No doubt there have been far more noteworthy events inside the hallowed chambers, but the Blues have dodged a bullet here, make no mistake.

Mr Martin had always said it would go down to the wire and he was as good as his word.

HMRC was serious about getting its money and the threat of administration, a 10-point deduction and likely redundancies among office staff was a real danger.

Now we wait for news of the payment being made, then maybe we can get back to what really matters, which is Football isn't it?
Glenn Speller

What would have happened to the club? We will never know, but hopefully those on the board will have learned a short, sharp lesson.

Securing a future

Football clubs at a higher level have become the plaything of the financial elite.

Southend United may not quite inhabit those rarefied surroundings and, given this experience, many Blues fans may never want to. But the directors now need to understand there are thousands of fans who care deeply about what happens at Roots Hall.

To them it is not a business, but part of their life, part of who they are and to have it taken away would have left a big hole.

There are families who have grown up together watching the Blues, friendships have been struck and life-long relationships formed just from a Saturday afternoon at 'The Hall'.

To go without this would have been unthinkable.

We do not know where the money to pay off the debt is coming from and we may never get the full story. Some people may not care where the cash has come from.

But surely we should be told, so we can be certain this situation will not arise again.

606: DEBATE
Professor P. Brayne

A consortium did make an offer to buy the club but that was rejected in favour of continuing to pursue other avenues.

Those avenues have led to apparent safety. But supporters may take some solace in the knowledge, should this arise again, that there are people who care enough to put their money up to save a club which means so much to so many.

Now we wait until Friday and news of the payment being made, then maybe we can get back to what really matters, which is football isn't it? And the enjoyment of a Saturday afternoon with friends and family, cheering our team on.

Some people would do well to remember that this is what the club is there for.



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