Issue Scarborough Go To Dust

As told by Michael Wood

Scarborough have always maintained a position close to my heart. Seaside town, nice little ground and when in 1987 they became the first club to claim automatic promotion to the Football League from the Conference they did it with Bradford City Legend Ces Podd at right back. They were a nice little club.

And for a little club they made some progress. After promotion they were bought up by a guy who had recently sold lighter company Ronson and he moved them forward a little before reaching what he perceived to be a ceiling and closing the coffers. He ended up swapping the club for another who he believed would not be held back by the little club tag that Boro always had and moved into Bradford City. That man was Geoffrey Richmond. The rest of that story you know.

The rest of the Scarborough story ended this morning at the High Court in Leeds with debts of £2.5m pushing the ailing team out of business. A statement from the club said it all

While it is sad to see the demise of a club with a proud history of 128 years, the club’s finances have for a number of years been in a very poor state and the company has been in and out of various insolvency proceedings.

Scarborough tried to sell the stadium but could not. The Judge noted that the early winding up would allow the Supporters Trust to form a new club and carry on the tradition of football. 128 years of tradition to be exact.

Scarborough has been in the League until 1999 and were in the UniBond League for next season after two relegations. At the top of that the larger league Watford took away £20m for finishing bottom. Next season £60m will do to the final placed club. The creeping mismanagement of Boro’s finances are one thing – business of football is often characterised by how badly it is done – but what we have here is a club starving to death on the outskirts of the richest City in the country. A drive past Black Fryer’s Bridge says we can do this is life but I hope that football could be an escape from those harsh realities.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the way that football works. Scarborough crash while others boom and the laws put into place to protect the game and it’s institutions are woefully inadequate being used to punish the weak in the case of Rotherham last season and reward the cunning. Leeds United, I refer to thee.

Every attempt to put a rule in place that could have been put in place to help the clubs who suffer in administration has been thwarted by opportunists such as Ken Bates at Leeds or the Leicester City directors that walked away from Filbert Street. Geoffrey Richmond’s plan to readdress the situation in 2001 was good sense from the wrong mouthpiece.

Richmond’s plan was to let football get its house in order post-ITV Digital by offering new contracts and making redundant players who would not sign them. It was a harsh way of ripping up a deal and the worry for some that prized assets would use this contract freedom to leave for The Premiership on free transfer scupperred it. Clubs like Scarborough ended up on a slow route to extinction and for whatever reason could not find a way off it.

A historical anomaly – and a worthwhile footnote – that it was Geoffrey Richmond’s attempts to make football law that could have saved his old club.