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A group of Southend United supporters, troubled over the future of the Sky Bet League Two strugglers, are rallying fellow fans to join them in a protest aimed at the clubs’ Chairman, Ron Martin.
Headed up by 41-year-old Lee Jarvis – a life-long Blues follower – the group are to congregate under current COVID guidelines in the Roots Hall Stadium car park after this Saturday’s match with Morecambe in a bid to highlight further the growing unrest amongst supporters.
“Constant winding-up orders, late payment of players and staff, transfer embargos and the lack of progress regarding the new stadium has left us hugely disturbed – we feel we need to stand up and be heard,” Mr Jarvis told Yellow Sport.
“In our opinion, the owners’ statements do very little to ease the worries of the fans. He seems to lay the blame on everyone else but himself.
“Admittedly, COVID-19 has not helped, but all these problems were there long before this pandemic came along. With less than five weeks to pay a £493,000 tax bill to HMRC and very little revenue coming into the club right now, most of us fans are genuinely concerned that we’re heading the same way as Bury and Macclesfield.”
Mr Martin gained majority ownership of the Blues two decades ago. However, despite fleeting success on the pitch during that period, some fans remain frustrated with his leadership and are calling for change.
“Fans posting on various forums suggest we’re stuck with Ron because we own nothing – he won’t walk away and a prospective new owner has nothing to buy.
“We would argue that. We are aware that running any business, particularly during these troubled times, is difficult. But Brighton once was a similar club to ourselves. Their fans fought for their very existence a few years ago, as did Orient supporters in recent times – both appear far better for it. Indeed, even throughout lockdown, Orient has been extremely pro-active, keeping their fans updated, in touch and feeling a part of something.
Mr Jarvis – a South Stand upper season card holder – confirmed the group are backing manager, Mark Molesley, adding: “We, as a group, will always fully support the manager and the team, they are not the ones to blame for this awful mess we are in.
“We feel, given the right tools, Mark and his staff will be a great appointment by the club. but he’s not a magician.
“He’s had to field players from the youngest-ever squad in the clubs’ history, resulting in four successive defeats across all competitions. It highlights where we are right now. We believe dropping out of the EFL after 100-years is a genuine possibility – There isn’t much to be optimistic about.
“On top of that, the lack of communication from within the club over the transfer embargo has, quite frankly, been awful with fans, and even some of the media, seemingly not too sure if we can or can’t sign a player and if he can or can’t play once he’s even signed.”
Mr Jarvis has urged protesters to follow government guidelines surrounding the pandemic: “We’re fully aware of what is happening right now with COVID, therefore we are asking fans attending Saturday’s protest to wear facemasks, split into groups of no more than six and adhere to the two-metre social distancing rule at all times.
This will be a peaceful protest. It isn’t an action we wanted to take, but given that in just over a month we may not have a club left to support, we believe we have very little choice.
Blues supporters requesting details surrounding Saturday’s protest are advised to join the Facebook group Ron Martin Out SUFC Protest.