These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Clubs In Crisis

Printed in the Slough Town v Cheshunt programme

FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round 16th October 2004

All football supporters like a good old moan, but one of the problems is that no matter what trouble your club seems to be in, there’s always someone worse off than you. On Monday night it was Kingstonian whose troubles puts Slough into perspective.

Not so long ago, they were flying high in the Conference with back-to-back FA Trophy wins, good FA Cup runs and a new ground with excellent facilities. But the club over stretched themselves and they were relegated. Despite relegation the wages bill reportedly increased by 20% and it wasn’t long before they went into voluntary administration. Enter Chairman Rajesh Khosla who bought the club from administrators for an undisclosed fee.

Kholsa sold the ground to AFC Wimbledon who now rent it back to them for a peppercorn rent. Khosla has made two million out of the sale of the ground but now seems intent on running the club into the ground. Players have been unpaid and the club are near the bottom of the table. He has backed out at the last minute to handing the club over to a new Supporters Trust and to a local florist for £50,000. As one supporter put it "Under him the club has lost ownership of the lease of the ground at Kingsmeadow, lost our best players, two managers and half our support.” This came to a head the other week when he wanted to ban 60 fans for chanting against him, and now he doesn’t attend games.

On the night the Rebels visited the programme editor had just resigned, and only one turnstile was open causing a long queue despite a gate of less than four hundred. Still full credit to their supporters who kept on singing despite being 3-0 down by half time, and it is definitely one of the best crowds and atmospheres we’ve encountered this year. I don’t want to see Kingstonian relegated but one old boy told me, maybe that would be for the best so they can start again in the Combined Counties, away from Kholsa.

I know a club with a dodgy chairman is hardly news, and with football grounds prized assets there always seems to some clubs in trouble. The Slough programme editor asked the other week, is money good for the game. Well, we all want to see success at our clubs, but we should sometimes ask ourselves, at what price? Football clubs aren’t just business ventures but mean an awful lot to people. Despite all the troubles both Slough and Kingstonian have faced, a few hundred hardy souls turn out week after week.

That’s why its important that the clubs are run primarily by the fans – and why its important for any Slough supporters that haven’t already done so to be part of our supporters Trust. Football Trusts mean that clubs can’t be hijacked so easily by people who promise the earth, then leave clubs in the lurch when they don’t pull it off, leaving the ever loyal supporters to sort out the mess.

* Check out http://www.clubsincrisis.com/ to find some of the clubs who are in need of some serious love and attention.

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