Let’s get this straight from the off. As Chairman of Wealdstone I don’t like writing on my blog about other clubs. No doubt some readers may already be saying “so don’t” but given the amazing national press coverage that the Croydon Athletic situation has brought the league I think this is a pretty public matter – and it does impact on us.
I chatted to Alan Turvey yesterday about this and I am confident that the League will have done all they can to help Croydon Athletic, but this is a situation where apparently there is not much anyone can do, other than appear from nowhere with the cash available to run a senior non league side. Would anyone really be interested in a crisis club like Croydon if they were looking to invest at our level. By the way if anyone reading this is looking to invest in a non league club then please contact me first!!!
This is not the first controversy to engulf Croydon Athletic either. They say this situation is entirely separate from anything that occurred with previous Chairman Dean Fisher. Fisher is the previous chairman / owner who is now in jail for fraud. I believe the Fisher situation meant that the FA have already been taking a keen interest in Croydon Athletic and I don’t believe there is any evidence of impropriety.
Unfortunately for the Club, after one crook came a guy who is now earning his 15 minutes of fame for all the wrong reasons as the News of the World and every other paper have made him into an anti hero for our time. Actually I believe Mr Majeed is not even registered legally as the owner of Croydon – which perhaps shows how difficult it would be to enforce some sort of ‘fit and proper persons’ test at our level.
The emotional farewells that have been broadcast from the management and team are all very well but I struggle with the protestations of the now ex-manager that significant (or above average) sums of money have not been invested in the team he had created – and this insistence actually takes away much of the sympathy I might otherwise have. We have all been around too long to know that you don’t come from the bottom of Ryman Div 1 to be a fancied team in the Ryman Premier within a year without serious investment. Players do not just do it for the love of the game, especially those signing from Conference and Pro clubs. A good set up will have helped but money talks as loudly in our league as it does in every other one.
What will happen to Croydon Athletic now? Today the League have announced that their next two league games will be postponed to give the Club time to see if it can survive. This will be hard and I don’t think many people will be surprised if they do not return.
So how does this affect us? On two levels I think. Many people felt that Croydon Athletic would be challenging at the top end of the table this season so you could argue that might be one less team likely to be up there. But maybe more important is what this says to people who are considering trying our level of football, or thinking about giving up watching a pro club because they think that has all become too money oriented.
I can only comment with confidence about our Club and hope that people see the number of people involved, the backbone we have and the fact that we would not be where we are without much hard work built on plenty of honesty – by which I mean paying out what we can afford, keeping our promises and generally keeping everyone in the picture in terms of where we are going. It’s the only way.
No one likes to see any club disappear and sure, like anyone else, I feel sorry for any genuine Croydon Athletic supporters – but as I always say in these circumstances – I hope they were asking all the right questions about how long the club could sustain their progress and not just enjoying the ride.
This is obviously not good for Croydon Athletic, but it is not good for the Ryman League or Non League football in general. We can only hope this is a one off and there are no other clubs financed in the same way – but the truth is you couldn’t say that for sure.