Farnborough: When will they ever learn?

Dark clouds over Cherrywood Road...
Dark clouds over Cherrywood Road…

There’s more than a handful of non-league clubs that seem to drift in and out of crisis. Most of them operate on a “boom and bust” basis, invariably prompted by over-spending, ill thought-out planning and unrealistic expectations.

Farnborough seem to be one such club. Weymouth is another. And then there’s those clubs, like St.Albans, that appear to go through regime changes every year or so.

Farnborough have just announced they are going into administration, which means they will suffer  a  10-point penalty. What’s more they have cleverly taken the hit this season, which given the campaign is now over, seems a trifle unfair on the rest of the league.  If all goes well,  they will start 2013-14 with a clean slate in terms of point deductions.

I seem to recall Farnborough being in financial crisis a couple of times over the past few years, dating back to the aftermath of the Graham Westley period when they were “the club with the right attitude”.

They’ve long had delusions of grandeur at Cherrywood Road and all said and done, the current club was only established in 2007 after Farnborough Town went into liquidation with debts of £1m. Apparently, the reformed club now has debts of £2m, of which the owner/manager is owed around £1m.  He calls them “historic” debts, but just how “historic” can they be given Farnborough FC’s vintage?

Actually, is hard to understand exactly what is owed to whom  – the interview on BBC Radio was almost as difficult to decipher as a politican’s statement on the latest food scandal. Even the BBC couldn’t work it out.

The club’s owner has called administration “very positive”.  He added that he was “proud of the way we have run the club…on a very limited and restricted cashflows. We are not talking about big money debts here.” According to the owner, the winding-up debt is just £ 20,000. It’s all about as clear as mud.

What is clear is that Farnborough has been an ill-run outfit for some years and despite claiming they are “a huge club”, they really need to come to terms with a much lower level of sustainable football.  As it stands, their track record over the past decade is unlikely to appeal to any would-be buyer of the club. And the timing of that lurch into administration looks very, very strategic.


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