Southend United Set to be Sold to Consortium Led by Justin Rees
Southend United owner Ron Martin has reached an agreement to sell the club to a consortium led by businessman Justin Rees, the club confirmed in a statement. This news comes after positive talks between the parties in the past week, with significant movement towards a takeover. The completion date for the sale is set for November 1, 2023.
Collaborative Approach and Support
The statement released by Southend United expressed gratitude to all parties involved in making this deal possible. The club acknowledged the support of creditors and the assistance from the Leader of Southend City Council. It also recognized the stress that this process has caused for everyone associated with the club, thanking the staff for their loyalty and stakeholders for their patience.
Excitement for New Ownership
Justin Rees, the leader of the consortium, expressed his pleasure at reaching an agreement to become the new custodian of Southend United FC. While due diligence is being conducted, Rees and his team will work closely with Tom Lawrence, John Still, and Kevin Maher to ensure a smooth transition once the deal is finalized. Rees also thanked Ron Martin, Tom Lawrence, Southend’s creditors, and the Southend City Council for their cooperation in avoiding administration.
The terms of the deal have been agreed upon, subject to the completion of due diligence at the end of October. Rees’ consortium will acquire ownership of the club, Roots Hall’s freehold, and the club’s existing training ground. They will also take on the club’s future operating costs and debts, which are believed to be over £2.5 million. However, this amount is significantly lower than Southend’s current liabilities owed to Ron Martin, which he is expected to write off.
In addition to the sale, an agreement is in place for Martin’s property development company to contribute significantly to the renovation of Roots Hall. Martin has long-term plans to redevelop the site of Roots Hall for council housing and his Fossetts Farm site. The revenue from the Fossetts Farm development will go towards refurbishing Roots Hall. This arrangement allows Martin to proceed with the development without the need for a new stadium.
Hopes for the Future
Southend United is hopeful that the completion of the sale and the resolution of outstanding issues will lead to the lifting of the current transfer embargo imposed since September 2022. The club also aims to avoid administration or liquidation, which was a potential outcome of Wednesday’s High Court hearing.
Resolving Unpaid Bills
Negotiations between Martin and Rees’ consortium have resulted in an agreement to settle unpaid bills. Npower, who sought access to Roots Hall stadium to cut off the energy supply due to an unpaid bill, had their case adjourned. The High Court is set to hear HMRC’s winding-up petition after three adjournments to settle an outstanding tax bill of £195,000. Both parties have agreed to pay half of the funds each.
With the sale of Southend United to Justin Rees’ consortium, there is renewed hope for the future of the club. The collaborative approach and support from creditors, the Southend City Council, and all stakeholders have been instrumental in making this deal possible. As the completion date approaches, fans eagerly anticipate a fresh start under new ownership and the potential for growth and success on and off the pitch.
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