The last few days for Imps fans have revolved around the draw against York City and the ticketing for the FA Cup game at Arsenal next week, but two pieces of news that haven’t overly been discussed are two stories that revolve around money, more specifically, Leyton Orient’s collapse and the demolition of Nene Park, the former ground of Rushden and Diamonds.
Rushden and Diamonds have a very rapid rise through the leagues in the early part of the century, winning promotion to the Football League in 2001 through Brian Talbot and one of the best all-round squads to grace the fourth tier in many years, including players such as Dean Holdsworth, Paul Hall, Onandi Lowe, Paul Underwood and a few that went on to play for City; Richie Hanlon, Rob Duffy and Gary Millers. They won promotion to what is now League One after just two years in League Two, but their time at that level ended pretty quickly as their investors pulled out.
They were relegated back to the non-league in 2006, joining the “five year club” and remained their until Lincoln were relegated in 2011. The clubs would never play each other again though as the club finally succumb to financial pressure and went under. Two of their squad, Alan Power and Sam Smith, would join the Imps soon after.
Kettering soon moved into Nene Park instead, but they too suffered from financial difficulties and would eventually go financially bust as well. Nene Park had been empty ever since Kettering’s demise in 2012. This week it was finally demolished.
Several miles down the road and Leyton Orient are seemingly following in the same fate as Rushden and Kettering. The club were on the verge of the Championship three years ago and were leading 2-0 in their Playoff Final against Rotherham, the Millers equalised and eventually went on to win. Russell Slade left and the club got relegated twelve months later and are now odds-on-favourites to be relegated again and in a statement released this week, they are likely to go into administration soon.
They are being taken to court this month to face a winding-up-order, but even if they survive it, it is exceptionally unlikely that the National League will accept the O’s (if they are relegated of course) whilst they’re in administration. The club has accrued a debit of around £12m according to the statement, allegedly because of dodgy dealings from its owner, doing things such as taking out loans in the name of Leyton Orient (again, allegedly). In the space of a few years the club have undone all of the efforts of former owner Barry Hearn in trying to get them up the leagues during the 2000s.
Both are proof that football is a tricky business and you never under-estimate just how valuable a sound financial head is. Ultimately football clubs are a business and sometimes need to be treated as such. This in many ways is why fans sometimes don’t make good owners….but in others it is their biggest strength.
Lincoln’s current chairman, Bob Dorrian, has faced his critics during his near seven year reign in charge of the club. He took over from Steff Wright and has had to deal with relegation, coups trying to oust him (and others) from the board, a march from fans before the home game against Newport in 2011/12 demanding that he leaves recovering from making losses every single year, and taking unsuccessful gambles on some managers. Some of his critics have been somewhat justified at times, but ultimately no-one could ever question that he was trying his best and that he actually cared.
What I think some fans don’t realise is how much Bob has sacrificed to keep this club going, even making decisions that weren’t popular in order to keep the club going, and whilst his decisions have often been far from flawless, we’d have been far worse off without him over the last few years.
Ultimately, regardless of whether you agree with his decisions or not, Bob had made this club financially stable for the first time in years, and that’s before you even take into account the FA Cup prize fund.