Southend United put up for sale by chairman Martin


National League club Southend United have been put up for sale.

Financial issues Southend, which has been owned by chairman Ron Martin for 25 years, has prompted fans to look at establishing a phoenix club.

“I feel the time is right,” said Martin of his decision to search for a buyer.

Martin said the dissatisfaction of the club’s supporters did not prompt the move, adding that the “first thought emerged” during the Covid pandemic when football was brought to a halt and financial strains across the game were exacerbated.

A statement from the club said the “introduction of a new custodian or investment partners would not be fast-tracked”.

American-based agency General Sports Worldwide LLC had been appointed as advisors to the club.

Martin still maintains the solution to the current financial problems is to relocate from their Roots Hall home, redevelop the site for housing and move to a new stadium at Fossetts Farm.

While those works are yet to begin, Martin said the £2m development of a new training facility was nearing completion and would be available for next season.

“Completion of the club’s new training ground represents the first phase of infrastructure, enabling the stadium and residential phases to commence,” he said in a statement.

“Tenders for those works, both stadium and residential, have now been received with works programmed to commence later this year.”

News of plans to try to sell the club was broken at a press conference with Martin saying players had not been told in advance.

“I don’t think they will be affected by it,” he said.

“I think players as a whole look to their manager, I don’t think they look to the chairman. This increases the club’s stability rather than instability, so they should be pleased.”

He added that no potential new investors had been spoken to in advance of the announcement.

‘Not many saw this coming’

Analysis – BBC Essex sports editor Glenn Speller

Wow! I don’t think many Southend United supporters saw this coming.

Having just escaped yet another winding-up petition from HMRC earlier this month, fans were gearing-up for another protest march ahead of tomorrow’s National League match at home to Aldershot.

Ron Martin has been a controversial character during his 25 year tenure at the club. He oversaw a rise up to the Championship which has since been followed by a catastrophic drop into the National League.

Players have gone unpaid over the years while office staff have suffered a lack of wages over Christmas and New Year and a season ticket sometimes would not have gone amiss at the High Court with enough winding-up petitions to paper a reasonably sized front room.

But there has always been the promised land of a new stadium in the offing. That is now more important than ever as Roots Hall rots away, offering nothing in the way of comfort on matchdays and standing as a symbol of the club’s descent.

While Ron Martin continues with the Fossetts Farm Stadium development, a new owner will be charged with restoring the club’s EFL status. Most Blues fans will hope there might be another couple of Hollywood actors who might be interested…

BBC Sports

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