Last chance saloon for Croydon Athletic FC
Croydon Athletic Football Club is facing doomsday as it stares into the abyss of extinction.
The club, co-owned by disgraced cricket match fixer Mazhar Majeed, could close within days bringing to an end a 25-year-legacy in Thornton Heath.
Cash-strapped Croydon Athletic had to postpone its last fixture against Ramsgate at the weekend and has had the electricity shut off at its Thornton Heath ground.
The board of the Ryman League, of which the club sits bottom of their division one south, are meeting today (WEDS) to discuss what action to take.
The club has had a terrible run with previous regimes, after former chairman Dean Fisher was jailed for embezzlement in July 2010, another former chairman David Le Cluse committed suicide shortly after Majeed’s arrest in October 2010 and Danish owners Fodboldselskabet A/S went bust earlier this year.
Manager Dave Garland admitted: “At this moment, I can’t see any way for the club to survive.
The future of Athletic, known as the Rams, was thrown into doubt when they were handed a 10 point penalty and a £7,500 fine last week for misconduct relating to payment to players.
The charges related to the 2009 season when Mazhar Majeed, the jailed cricket agent at the centre of the Pakistani spot-fixing ring, was owner.
His sister-in-law, Jenna Manji, is believed to still be the registered owner and has previously said she was seeking investors.
Rumours have circulated that she has now wiped her hands of the club, leaving them unable to pay their bills and in turmoil.
Rymans League bosses could recommend today (Weds) the club is expelled from the league.
Paul Smith, chairman of the Rams Army supporters club, said: “I think the fans will be extremely disappointed.
“It is difficult to put into words.
“There has been a tremendous amount of effort by staff and volunteers to keep the club alive but maybe the task was too great.”
Nick Robinson, secretary of the Ryman League, said it was working hard with current club chairman Chris Roots to save the club.
He added: “It depends if Croydon Athletic are able to move forward.
“The league needs to be satisfied they can keep all their commitments.”
The club could be given more time to find a buyer, or it could be allowed to continue in the league but warned it will be fined for any missed fixtures.
Mr Smith said even if the first team were to sink, they still believed their academy and women’s team would continue.
He added: “There are a lot of people here who are working hard so the club has a future.
“It is not the doing of the club it is the circumstances relating to Majeed with his arrest and conviction that has led to the difficulties in which the club find itself.
“There were a whole number of contributing factors.”
Croydon Green party member Shasha Khan, a season ticket holder at the club, said there was a great amount of “dejection and frustration” at the club.
He said: “We have had a really bad run of chairmen. I hope something can happen.
“The players, the staff, the manager - we’re all the losers here.”