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Holker Street Newsletter 294 - 20th February 1999



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Barrow play on to end of season but consortium call for help
By John Whittaker, Evening Mail, Friday 19 February 1999

The consortium fighting to save football at Holker Street has called on the public and local businesses to throw their financial muscle behind its efforts. Yesterday the Nationwide Football Conference turned down an application from the consortium which would have replaced Barrow AFC (which is in liquidation) with the consortium’s new company, Barrow AFC (1999) Ltd, but consortium spokesman, Brian Keen, stressed this is not the end of the road. The Conference said it would allow Barrow AFC to play the rest of this season’s games while it is being liquidated, and the liquidator, Jim Duckworth, has given the go ahead, as long as the consortium pays the costs of putting the games on. Keen, who attended yesterday’s Conference meeting with solicitor Alan Dunn, said the consortium has decided to do this, but now needs financial help to meet the costs. "We have taken the challenge up and now need to go forward," he said. "We need sponsors. We need donations. We need as much support as we can get so we can get to the end of the season." At last Thursday’s public meeting at Barrow’s Forum 28 the consortium said it wasn’t asking for financial support, because it hadn’t finalised its plans and was waiting for the Conference's decision. That decision has now been made, but the consortium members have refused to lie down and now know which direction they’re heading in. "We’ve really got to get moving, starting with the Yeovil game on Saturday," said Keen. "If the Yeovil game flops then we’re in trouble." Keen said the consortium members were meeting today to finalise their subscription plans for their new company, Barrow AFC (1999) Ltd. Fans will be able to pay a yearly subscription fee, probably about UKP10, which will make them a member of the club. They will then have a vote at general meetings and will have a real say in how the club is run and by whom. Referring to yesterday’s meeting, Dunn said today: "The Conference accepted the assurances of the representatives of the consortium that they had confidence there would be sufficient support from the town, backed by promises of financial support, to ensure the club would be able to complete the rest of the fixtures. Depending upon firstly, the results of the team’s efforts on the field, and secondly, the efforts of the consortium to put a convincing case at the end of the season, then the Conference will review the position at that time."


HOW AFC STAND

Following the Nationwide Football Conference’s decision to turn down the consortium’s request to let its new company replace AFC in the League, Barrow’s position is as follows:

1. The Conference has said it is prepared to let Barrow AFC play the rest of this season’s fixtures while it is in liquidation.

2. AFC's liquidator, Jim Duckworth, has said he is willing to let that happen, as long as the consortium agree to underwrite any losses incurred from playing the games.

3. The consortium has said it is willing to do that. Which means the rest of this season’s games will be played as long as sufficient cash can be raised.

4. At some point, probably in the off season, the liquidator will complete his winding-up of Barrow AFC and that club will cease to exist.

5. Between now and then, the consortium will be in negotiations with the liquidator, with the aim of buying any assets the club has.

6. Once the liquidation of AFC has finished, the consortium plans to ask the Conference (if AFC haven’t been relegated) to accept its new club, Barrow AFC (1999) Ltd, into the League.


AFC FACE AWAY DAY SPECIALISTS

Barrow AFC have a difficult job on their hands at Holker Street tomorrow, facing the team with the only remaining unbeaten away record in the Conference. Visitors Yeovil Town have yet to slip up on the road in thirteen outings, their proud record of seven wins and six draws helping the Glovers move up into third place. AFC, third from bottom and currently on a run of three successive defeats, can take heart from the fact they lost narrowly 1-0 in Somerset last month in Shane Westley’s first game in charge. Westley said today: "They don’t come much tougher than this do they? But the club is starting to rebuild, we are definitely improving off the park and on the park. We’re starting to get organised and work together as a squad." Left back Kevin Sandwith has joined the Holker Street exodus, moving to Conference rivals Telford, but Westley has signed another player this week, goalkeeper Craig Davies, who, coincidentally, arrives from Telford. A win could lift the Bluebirds as much as five places up the table.

Barrow: Parks, Fensome, Challender, Jones, Higgins, Southworth, Kennedy, Doherty, Hayward, O’Keeffe, Lewis, Dawson, Haddow, Davies.


WHAT OTHERS THINK

Barrow’s predicament has generated a reasonable amount of discussion on other mailing lists, and these are some comments from the Yeovil list.


Barrow are still in the Conference, sort of, so Saturday's fixture goes ahead. The Conference have buck-passed the decision back to the liquidators, so the meeting today was a waste of time. The Conference only plan to re-review the situation either if the liquidator closes down Barrow completely, otherwise it will take a second look at the situation over the summer. I think they are hoping that Barrow will get relegated hence the UniBond can make that decision for them.


I read it like that, this summary came from the Barrow site, but it seems to me that the implication is that Barrow is in a catch 22 situation.

"The Conference ruled out the possibility of the new Barrow AFC (1999) taking the place of Barrow AFC. The only way in which Barrow can continue in the Conference is as the current club."

This means that the new consortium have to take on the club in its present financial state with all its debts and no assets (the players all became out of contract and therefore free agents when the club went bankrupt, and the ground has been transferred to another company, unless, presumably the liquidator can prove this was illegal and recover it). At the end of the season the Conference then looks at the situation and says "ahh, Barrow AFC is clearly not viable (unless the liquidator has already folded it) because it’s got all these debts and no assets". Trouble is, I suppose, they would argue that if they allow clubs to simply fold and rise again as a new company with the same League status the temptation will be for clubs to spend money they haven't got to gain success and then, if it all goes pear shaped, just write off their debts by forming as a new business. So, if we are looking at the possibility of a Slough 2 situation here, who is going to be Telford 2 (if Barrow don't do the decent thing and get themselves relegated properly). Doncaster and Southport (games in hand) look the most likely beneficiaries. Hmm: now who would the Conference think it was better to retain politically - Doncaster or poor old Barrow. The faintest whiff of fish drifts on the wind! Talking of our Doncaster Rovers friends - anyone know if they are on course to get their ground up to standard? The deadline is either March or May 31.


DON’T FORGET

The Barrow AFC web site has moved and can now be found at and Richard’s email address has changed to .


CHRISTMAS QUIZ

Does anyone know how many correct entries were received for this quiz?


IF ONLY IT COULD HAVE BEEN US

Chris Waddle has been signed by Boston United, although not in time to play this week,
he can play in the Trophy a week on Saturday.


HOOLIGANS PUT THE BOOT IN NON-LEAGUERS
By John Goodbody, The Times, Thursday 18 February

Hooliganism is spreading to the anorak-and-Bovril world of non-League football. Police say that the huge improvements in security and safety at Premiership and Football League grounds have pushed the problem down the scale to the smaller grounds, previously renowned for their camaraderie and friendliness.

On their way to the Final of the 1998 FA Vase at Wembley, the followers of Tow Law Town, known as The Misfits, left a trail of devastation. Fans of the County Durham village team left calling cards in pubs that they wrecked as they progressed through the early Rounds: "You've met the rest. Now meet the best.''

On August 15 about 30 followers of Doncaster Rovers, who are playing in the Conference for the first time this season after dropping out of the Football League, invaded the pitch at Dover. Charlie Mitten, the Dover goalkeeper, was hit in the face. The visitors later ran amok at a cricket match.

Yeovil Town fans displayed a Red Hand of Ulster flag at a Cup game against Cardiff City last month, bringing a complaint from the Cardiff chaplain.

Wisbech Town has become notorious for its racial abuse. During an FA Cup tie against Bristol Rovers last season Barry Hayles, a black player, was the target of bananas thrown by Wisbech fans. When Les Ferdinand, the Tottenham and England forward, played there, he described the ground as the worst in the country for racial abuse. Wisbech this week insisted there are no problems this season and anyone guilty of abuse is banned from the ground.

An FA Trophy tie between Altrincham and Bishop Auckland in 1997 was held up for 20 minutes because of fighting between fans and the police. Rival players came to blows in the car park afterwards.

Tim Hollis, the Assistant Chief Constable in charge of policing football hooliganism in England and Wales, tells BBC Radio 5 Live today: "Certainly, at anecdotal level, I have been aware for some time there have been problems at non-League clubs." Speaking on BBC Radio, he says that because of improved stewarding, better control, CCTV and all-seater stadiums in the Premiership and top end of the Football League, problems have become "displaced" to smaller matches. He points out that even if only 20 people are misbehaving in a crowd of 70, "for your match it is not a small problem, it is a very significant one". The National Criminal Intelligence Service collates data on hooligans sent by the officers individually responsible for each of the 92 Premiership and Football League clubs. A spokeswoman accepted that there seemed to be an increase in the amount of violence in non-League football. "A lot of hooligans travelling abroad to watch England do come from non-League clubs," she added.

However Alan Simpson, the scriptwriter for Tony Hancock and Steptoe and Son and president of Hampton, in the Ryman League Premier Division, for 32 years, revels in the familiarity of semi-professional football. "After non-League matches, fans can chat to the players and referee over a drink. In the big professional clubs, players are segregated from other people and sometimes the referee is lucky to get a cup of tea because there are fears he might be corrupted.''


CONFERENCE NEWS
Thanks to Peter Caldwell for sending this and the articles from the Evening Mail.

Reasons to be cheerful
Conference attendances will hit the half million mark this weekend, offering an early celebration in the twentieth anniversary of the 'fifth division'. Crowds will reach the historic landmark at their earliest ever stage, beating by four weeks the fastest passage to the half million mark set last season. A total of 487,501 fans have attended matches so far this term, with the average gate of 1630 on course for an all-time high for the national competition. Topping the club charts are Conference debutantes Doncaster Rovers whose average attendance of 3456 sets a decade best at the Belle Vue Stadium. Rushden & Diamonds (3009) are another 3000+ club, with a further six sides commanding average crowds in excess of 2000; Stevenage Borough (2799), Cheltenham Town (2480), Yeovil Town (2369), Woking (2262), Hereford United (2076) and Kidderminster Harriers (2033).

Poles play Kingstonian
One of the leading tips for this season’s Polish League title Widzew Lodz have selected Nationwide Conference opposition in their final preparations for the forthcoming championship campaign. Geoff Chapple’s Kingstonian will play host to the Polish outfit on Thursday (kick off 7.45pm) in one of two friendlies booked in by the touring party. Kingstonian’s match will be preceded by Widzew's encounter at Premiership club West Ham United two days earlier. Kingstonian, who have lost just once in fifteen Nationwide Conference outings, will provide the England set up with an early preview of Poland’s European Championship credentials with Widzew claiming three full internationals in their party. Kingstonian, selected following their impressive display in December’s live televised FA Cup tie against Leyton Orient will entertain the Polish League’s top marksmen from last season, with Widzew finishing just five points off the title chase in fourth spot.

And then there were two
The number of clubs claiming an unbeaten start to 1999 reduced to two on Saturday following Doncaster Rovers’ 2-0 home reversal by Yeovil Town. The result leaves Kingstonian. who made it seven without defeat thanks to a 3-3 draw at Stevenage Borough, and Forest Green Rovers (five wins) carrying the Conference’s unbeaten banner into week seven of the new year. At the other end of the spectrum, the last remaining side without a 1999 success, Hereford United, ended their six week wait on Saturday when they returned from Farnborough Town 4-0 victors.

Chapple adds pair
Geoff Chapple, manager of Kingstonian, has strengthened the Kingsmeadow ranks with two new recruits of Conference pedigree. Joining from Luton Town is former Kettering defender Kofi Nyamah who has made the move to Surrey on a short term basis. The 23-year-old former Cambridge United and Stoke City player made his debut in the 3-3 draw at Stevenage Borough last Saturday. Also drafted in for an undisclosed fee is ex-Hednesford Town striker Delton Francis. The 20-year-old Birmingham City graduate, who spent a spell on trial with Macclesfield Town earlier in the campaign has signed a two and a half season contract with the Surrey outfit.

Eastwood in line of fire
Conference leaders Kettering Town have strengthened their front line with the loan signing of Burnley striker Philip Eastwood. The 20-year-old who has played ten first team games for the Turf Moor outfit this season, made his Poppies debut as a sixty-first minute substitute in the 2-1 win over Telford United last Saturday. Eastwood, who spent an eight game loan spell at Telford last season, has joined the Rockingham Road club with a view to a permanent transfer, subject to the club agreeing a suitable fee.


Harding appoints
New manager John Harding has wasted little time strengthening his team at Farnborough Town. Harding, who succeeded long serving stalwart Alan Taylor last weekend, has appointed Nick Crowther as number two at Cherrywood Road. Crowther joins following spells as assistant manager at Crawley Town, Tooting & Mitcham and Hampton. On the playing staff Harding, former assistant to Paul Fairclough at Conference colleagues Stevenage, has signed Danish goalkeeper Tony Henriksen on a match-by-match basis from Rushden & Diamonds. Striker Colin Simpson has arrived on a month’s loan from Leyton Orient and talks currently continue aimed at bringing striker Mike Bignall to the club from Kidderminster Harriers.

Mike at front of Crewe!
One of the Conference’s top ten marksmen Adie Mike is considering a Football League comeback, accepting an offer to train with first division Crewe Alexandra in between Conference outings for Leek Town. The 25-year-old former Manchester City and Stockport County striker’s thirteen goals this season have made him a target in recent weeks for other Conference sides as well as those in the Nationwide League. Leek manager Ernie Moss said: "We have told Adie that we won’t stand in his way but at the moment be is only training with Crewe. Until Crewe or Adie himself makes a decision that’s the way it stands."

Bulls bring Cows in
Swindon Town forward Steve Cowe has joined Hereford United in a one month loan deal. The 24-year-old former Aston Villa player, who has 70 appearances under his belt for the County Ground outfit, made his Bulls debut in Saturday’s 4-0 win at Farnborough Town, marking the occasion by laying on United’s fourth goal. The victory ends Hereford’s least fruitful run since joining the Conference in 1997 with one point coming United’s way in seven games. The win was the club’s biggest on the Conference circuit in over fifteen months.

Vikings land in Doncaster
Doncaster Rovers are heading for their highest crowd figures this decade with Saturday’s visit of Yeovil Town attracting an attendance of 4413. The Belle Vue gate, the Conference’s third biggest of the campaign so far, raises Doncaster’s average to 3456, a 122% increase on the corresponding stage last season (1557). The increase in attendance levels owes much to the club’s innovative marketing strategy this season with over 500 youngsters at the weekend taking advantage of Rovers’ Quid a Kid policy. Saturday’s game also reaped the rewards of a radio advertising campaign, voiced by commentator Stuart Hall, as well as Doncaster’s special offer of 500 free Viking helmets which have been a symbol of the club for over a century.

Mullen signs Ford
Kidderminster Harriers have made their fourth signing in three weeks with Barnet defender Jon Ford joining the Aggborough outfit until the end of the season. The 30-year-old, who has over 200 Nationwide League appearances to his credit for Swansea City, Bradford City, Gillingham and Barnet, made his Harriers debut m the 0-0 draw against Rushden & Diamonds last Saturday.


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