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Southend United are back! A brilliant night at the Cliff’s saw Justin and his leadership team inspire the fans of an optimistic future

I have watched from afar at the miraculous rescue of Southend United in which a great many people did the impossible and saved the club.

We know Justin Rees and his Consortium have been pivotal and their plaudits will be eternal - as long as they do not go down the same path as the previous owner! Having attended the Consortium's evening at the Cliff's Pavilion, I have never been more inspired and confident in a leadership team.

Justin, himself, is the type of leader I would love to follow. The impression he gives me is that he is very confident in himself and is perfectly happy to invite everyone into his gang. He is a man of the people, because he really is a man of the people. And without exception, all the other consortium members were just as genuine, passionate, experienced and community driven. It was an amazing story of how this group were brought together, many citing just 10 minute conversations with Justin! These are people with whom strong foundations can be built and they truly understand the history of the club and what they want it to become. If they were a political party I'd vote for them!

It cannot be overstated what they have done for our city. Southend United is much more than a football club, just as any organisation that brings people together.

Future generations will never know the scale of the rescue, and any future World Cup winning stars from Southend will owe their success to them!

I believe the consortium, at some point, if all goes well, will also deserve the keys to the city along with the brilliant Maher.

Turning to the manager, what a modest and humble guy he is. With the 1600 strong audience applauding him gratefully when he took to the stage, he could only pass on his gratitude to everyone bar himself! He kept the spirit going and the positive results coming in when no one really knew whether there was any future to win for. Such integrity and a sense of duty, and it is more good news that he has confirmed he will be part of the future.

But what of the fans?

It was their love of Southend United that rallied overwhelming political support from Anna Firth MP, who, in the face of a severely Tory-hating climate from many quarters, received a surprising round of applause as Justin paid tribute to her. The same is true of the many key councillors who did everything they could, as well other important stakeholders. Without this support, the club would have been finished, as the courts had reportedly permitted the club to exist where in nearly all other circumstances this would not have been the case.

There are countless other worthy causes across the city that desperately need help, but none have been lucky enough to have behind them such a tidal wave of people power to smash any obstacles aside. The auditorium was packed out with deeply loyal fans who were hanging on to every word of the night to ensure their battling had been fought for good reason. I feel sure they would be happy.

So many devoted fans involved in the rescue and they will know who they are within the crowd. I hope the public will hear of them in due course because they too did the impossible. They can stand proudly as equals amongst those who resuscitated life back into Southend United.

To Business

Yet, we mustn’t forget the new owners are in business, and whilst it may well be a labour of love for them, they are looking for the club to sustain itself going forward, and dare I say it, make a profit. As it stands, they are funding the £2m deficit and are looking for new ways to increase revenue. The call was for the fans to invest into the club, which I am certain they will do.

Once-upon-a-time Ron Martin may have received a similar heroes welcome - now he is the villain. I cannot see that happening with this leadership team, and with the team playing so well, despite everything, there is optimism about winning promotion this season. But it could just as easily go wrong on the field. A run of bad luck hits morale and a couple of injuries to key players could land us in trouble. After all, it is football and anything can happen.

I previously wrote an article trying to get into the skin of Ron Martin and why he wasn’t selling at the time (, because to an outsider, it seemed so wrong.

We know how he almost killed the club, but he was first and foremost a businessman and that meant putting his survival before the Southend United. And it should not be unexpected if a similar set of circumstances unfolded with the new owners, however much their love of the blues are clearly woven into the club.

In this sense, we probably need to manage our expectations of Justin and his team and make sure we continue to back him even if expectations remain only modest. The consortium openly stated "we are not billionaires", and so we may need to be content that the players and staff get paid, we avoid the courts for late payments, avoid point deductions for financial issues, and are able to field enough players that would be considered a squad! I realise those expectations may be conservative, but we can't take anything for granted these days!


My hope is they run it like a true community football club that is mainly made up of local players.

I was lucky enough to have my question asked at the Q&A, and it was confirmed there were plans to bring the academy back - but just not yet.

I was pleased to hear this, and I hope, once they overcome the urgent barriers, they take this further than ever before.

I once played for Southend Manor during my youth, and I have played against many players I always felt could have been professionals had they been given the right opportunities.

There are thousands of players in the local area who pay to play football each week for their local teams and would be honoured just to stand on the Roots Hall pitch, let alone get paid for it!

If we implemented a strong scouting system I feel confident in years to come we would do very well indeed. Parents would likely pay a nominal amount to have their kids put in front of the scouts, so it could even be self-funding. Either way it is done, utilising local talent as the foundation of the club I hope will become the underpinning philosophy of the club. There’s nothing like getting behind our own.  That’s not to cut off the rest of the world, but being that we can’t afford the rest of the world, this seems the most stable and sustainable route to success. And who are going to be more passionate about Southend United than those who grew up here and had aspirations to one day play at Roots Hall?

The new owners will be keen to retain the goodwill they are currently in enshrined in, and I dare say this may be one aspect that would continue to win everyone over.

But for now, very well done to Justin, the consortium, the politicians, and the fans for bringing the club back from the brink, and let's hope for a community-lead successful football club that we can all be proud of for years to come.


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