Following today’s welcome announcement from Ron Martin and Justin Rees, I wanted to take this opportunity to share my own thoughts.
I am delighted to read that a deal has been agreed between Mr. Martin and Mr. Rees in time to avoid any further punishments that disproportionately affect fans more than anyone else. Whilst I understand there is still parts of the deal to be finalised, the agreement of Heads of Terms is undoubtedly a pivotal moment for the future of Southend United. For the first time in well over a year, there is light at the end of the tunnel and realistic prospects of a future where Southend United not just survives but thrives.
Given the profound effect this saga has had on all supporters, I would like to pay tribute to the incredible work done throughout this period by the Shrimpers Trust and all the other associated fan groups. The dedication and commitment that has been shown by all has been exemplary. I would also like to give special recognition to the “working group”, who I have had the pleasure of working alongside for well over a year now. Despite the current situation, to see so many fans turn out to support Southend on a weekly basis has been truly humbling and a constant reminder of what the club means to so many people within the community. It is also appropriate to recognise the extraordinary work done by all the staff at Roots Hall, including Tom Lawrence who has been instrumental in keeping the club operating.
As we begin to look to the future, it is clear to me that the Government needs to safeguard football against belligerent and unscrupulous owners who may not have the best interest of their clubs at heart. The recently released White Paper regarding the future of football governance is undoubtedly a step in the right direction however, the proposed Independent Regulator for English Football (IREF) must be given the strength it needs to be effective at all levels of the pyramid, not just the top.
I once again call on the Government to guarantee that the introduction of the IREF will be included in the King’s Speech this year and to ensure that some form of ‘Shadow Regulator’ is in place by the end of this year. I look forward to working with the Government on this flagship piece of legislation to ensure that fans remain at the very heart of what the IREF stands for because as we all know, football is nothing without the fans.
Finally, the job Kevin, Darren and the entire team have done on the pitch throughout this period has been nothing short of miraculous and they deserve all the plaudits they receive. I hope that today’s announcement will act as a catalyst for Southend’s season, and I have no doubt that some stability off the pitch will greatly improve already brilliant performances on it. I cannot wait to take my seat in the West Stand when my schedule allows and to get behind the boys as we begin our inevitable (hopefully) march up the table.