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Southend United F.C.

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Southend United
Full nameSouthend United Football Club
Nickname(s)The Shrimpers/The Blues
Founded19 May 1906; 118 years ago (1906-05-19)
GroundRoots Hall[1]
ChairmanRon Martin
Head CoachKevin Maher
LeagueNational League
2023–24National League, 9th of 24
WebsiteClub website
Current season

Southend United Football Club is a professional association football club based in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England, which competes in the National League, the fifth level of English football. The team are known as "The Shrimpers", a reference to the area's maritime industry that is included as one of the quarters on the club badge. The club has a long-standing rivalry with nearby Colchester United, with which it contests the Essex derby.

Founded on 19 May 1906 in the Blue Boar pub, Southend won the Southern League Second Division in both of its two initial seasons and was admitted into the Football League in 1920. It spent the next 44 years in the third tier of English football, before dropping into the Fourth Division in 1966. They spent the next 24 years moving between the third and fourth tiers, winning promotions in 1971–72, 1977–78, 1980–81 (as champions), 1986–87 and 1989–90. They were promoted into the Second Division for the first time at the end of the 1990–91 season. After six seasons in the second tier they suffered a double relegation in 1997 and 1998. Under manager Steve Tilson, Southend again secured a double promotion in 2004–05 and 2005–06 to win a place in the Championship as League One champions. However, they only lasted one season in the second tier and then, after two top half League One finishes, were relegated back to League Two in 2010. They secured promotion as play-off winners in 2015, but suffered another double relegation in 2020 and 2021, amidst financial problems, to drop—after 101 years in the Football League—into the National League, where they remain.

The club is based at Roots Hall Stadium in Prittlewell, but since 1998—when property developer Ron Martin, later chairman, took ownership—had been planning to move to a proposed new stadium at Fossetts Farm. In March 2023, Martin put Southend United up for sale; a deal was provisionally agreed in October 2023 but involved the club staying at Roots Hall - though, as of July 2024, the sale had yet to be finalised, amid fears that the club may be wound-up.


1906–1920: foundation and early years[edit]

Southend United F.C. was founded on 19 May 1906 in the Blue Boar Hotel[2][3] after landlord Oliver Trigg invited a group of footballers and businessmen to discuss setting up a new professional club.[4][a] The new Southend United would displace the more prominent Southend Athletic in the town, who later disbanded.[6] A prospectus for shares in the club issued in August 1906 noted the club had been elected to complete in the Second Division of the Southern League and in the South Eastern League, and a seven-year lease had been agreed to play at Roots Hall Field in Prittlewell.[7]

Robert Jack ("late of Plymouth Argyle Football Club") was appointed as manager, secretary and player, and 12 professional players were recruited, including two - outside left Alfred Ernest Watkins (formerly at Millwall) and back George Molyneux (formerly at Portsmouth) - listed as internationals (Watkins had played for Wales, Molyneux for England).[7][b] Other signings included goalkeeper Charles Cotton from West Ham, outside right Arthur Holden from Portsmouth, and centre-forward Harold Halse from Wanstead, plus players from Southend Athletic, Grays United, South Weald and Leigh Ramblers.[7] In the Southern League Second Division, Southend would primarily compete against reserve teams.[6]

In their first season under Jack's management, Southend won the Southern League Second Division title for 1906–07, then repeated the feat the following season, gaining election to the Southern League First Division in 1908.[6] The club first entered the FA Cup in 1907–08, where they met East Ham.[6] When Jack left Southend in 1910, he was succeeded as player-manager by Molyneux. Southend were relegated back to the Second Division after the 1910–11 season, but returned to the First Division two seasons later as runners-up.[8] However, World War I disrupted the club's progress.[6] To aid the country's war effort, parts of the club's ground Roots Hall were dismantled and requisitioned to a nearby timber yard where buildings had been destroyed by bombs.[6] After the war, Roots Hall was unusable so Southend moved to 'The Kursaal'.[6]

1920s–1980s: establishment in the Football League[edit]

Chart of table positions of Southend in the English football league system

The club remained in the Southern League until the first post-World War I season of 1919–20. The club then joined the Football League's new Third Division and finished 17th in their first season.[8] In 1921, the Third Division was regionalised with Southend United joining the Third Division South.[6] In their second Football League season, Southend had to apply for re-election.[6] However, from 1922, under new manager Ted Birnie, the club began to stabilise and began to challenge for promotion to the Second Division, finishing third in 1932.[6] After a successful twelve years, Birnie left to be replaced in May 1934 by David Jack, son of the club's first manager,[6] and the Shrimpers moved from the Kursaal to the Southend Stadium.[6] A highlight of Jack's six-year tenure saw Southend draw 4–4 in the FA Cup third round at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur in January 1936 before losing the replay.[6] Following the start of World War II, the 1939–40 season was abandoned.[6] In the 1948–49 season, the Shrimpers narrowly avoided a re-election vote.[8] Southend came close to promotion when they finished third in 1950 (the club's joint highest league position until 1991).[9] Southend remained in the Third Division South until the re-structuring of the Football League in 1958.[8]

Southend United joined the new national Third Division in 1958, where they remained until 1966 when they suffered their first relegation, into the Fourth Division. The club had to wait six seasons until 1972 to experience the club's first promotion, as runners-up behind Grimsby Town. In 1976 Southend suffered relegation again before taking another runners-up spot behind Watford in 1978. Another relegation in 1980 was directly followed by one of the most successful seasons in the club's history as they won the Fourth Division Championship in 1981, breaking a series of club records in the process.[9] Despite success on the pitch and low admission prices, the club's gates were low and condemned as "a bad reflection on the town".[9]: 72 


In 1984, the club was relegated to the Fourth Division (Bobby Moore was manager), and the following season finished 20th, narrowly avoiding having to seek re-election to the Football League. However, Southend gained promotion in 1987. Although relegated again in 1989 (albeit with the highest point total of any relegated team in League history), successive promotions in 1990 and the 1991–92 season saw Southend United reach the second tier of the Football League; in 1992, under manager David Webb, the club finished 12th in the old Second Division, having briefly topped the division on New Year's Day, 1992.

Southend United were then managed by Colin Murphy and Barry Fry. Fry moved to Southend United in 1993 with the club bottom of Division One. Fry kept Southend up, but later in the year moved to Birmingham City.[10] He was succeeded by former Shrimpers player Peter Taylor in his first managerial role in the Football League. He spent two years between 1993 and 1995 as manager, but quit at the end of the 1994–95 season after failing to get them beyond the middle of the Division One table. In 1995, former Liverpool player Ronnie Whelan became player-manager.[11] Southend finished 14th in Division One in his first season as a manager, but were relegated a year later and Whelan left the club, later winning a case for wrongful dismissal.[12] He was replaced by Alvin Martin but Martin was unable to avoid a second consecutive relegation.

Martin Dawn PLC (run by Ron Martin) and Delancey Estates, together forming South Eastern Leisure (SEL), took control of Southend United in November 1998, buying the club and its centrally located Roots Hall ground for £4 million from then chairman Vic Jobson, who at the time owned 55% of the issued share capital of the club.[13] (The transfer of Roots Hall's ownership to Roots Hall Limited - 50% owned by Martin Dawn - were to have ramifications almost 25 years later.[14]) Jobson had previously sold part of the ground's South Bank for housing, and SEL's plan was to continue the redevelopment and move the club to a proposed 16,000-seat stadium in a leisure redevelopment in the northern part of Southend.[13]

Alvin Martin left in April 1999, with Southend fifth from bottom in the Football League.[15] Alan Little was manager for a brief spell, helping them to avoid the drop into the Football Conference and also helped them survive a serious financial crisis by slashing the wage bill and rebuilding a much cheaper side. The club's first flirtation with the High Court came in July 2000, when a debt to the Inland Revenue was paid off shortly before a scheduled winding-up petition hearing.[14] Little's dismissal in September 2000 came as a surprise as, despite a poor start to the season, it followed a five-game unbeaten run that saw 'the Shrimpers' rise to 10th in the Third Division. He was replaced by David Webb on 2 October 2000,[citation needed] soon after Ron Martin had taken over as chairman.[13] The club then turned to Rob Newman, Steve Wignall and, in late 2003, former Southend United midfielder Steve Tilson.

2004–2010: the Tilson era[edit]

Under Tilson, Southend reached their first national cup final, meeting Blackpool in the 2004 final of the Football League Trophy at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.[16] Over 20,000 Southend fans travelled,[17] but the team did not rise to the occasion and Blackpool won 2–0. Tilson then led Southend to promotion to League 1 in 2005, while making a second successive appearance in the Football League Trophy final, which the Shrimpers lost 2–0 to Wrexham,[18] but the third appearance at the Millennium Stadium in the League Two play-off final against Lincoln City brought success[19] giving the club its first promotion via the play-off system and their first major silverware since 1981.

In May 2006 Southend became League One champions after beating Bristol City 1–0 at Roots Hall in front of over 11,000 fans - the club's first title in 25 years. Tilson was named as the League Manager Association's Manager-of-the-Season for League One.

Southend started the 2006–07 season with wins over Stoke City and Sunderland, but then did not win a league game for 18 games until December 2006. In the meantime, however, Southend did beat trophy holders and Premier League Champions Manchester United 1–0 in a League Cup fourth round tie on 7 November 2006, with Freddy Eastwood scoring the winner.[20] Southend briefly escaped the relegation zone in March 2007 but only 10 league wins in the season meant the Shrimpers were relegated back to League One. Southend finished sixth in League One at the end of 2007–08, qualifying for a play-off place. Against Doncaster Rovers, Southend drew the home leg 0–0, but lost the second leg 5–1. The following season, Southend finished 8th, missing out on a play-off place, but the 2009–10 season was tougher: a run of just one win in 2010 left Southend deep in trouble, and relegation to League Two was confirmed on 24 April 2010 following a 2–2 draw at Oldham. On 4 July 2010 manager Steve Tilson was put on gardening leave,[21] ending his seven-year stint as manager.


2009–10 financial difficulties[edit]

During the 2009–10 season, Southend faced two winding-up orders from HM Revenue and Customs over unpaid tax bills.[22][23] In February 2010 Southend players were not paid, the Professional Footballers Association had to pay the players, and the club were placed under a transfer embargo until they paid the money back.[24] In March 2010 Southend were given a 35-day extension to pay the unpaid bill or face administration,[25] and further seven day extension in April 2010.[26] On 20 April 2010 the bill was paid,[27] and in August 2010 all actions against Southend United were dropped and an agreement was reached with HMRC.[28]


On 5 July 2010 former Sheffield Wednesday and Plymouth Argyle manager, Paul Sturrock was announced as the new manager.[29] Sturrock led Southend to a 13th place in his first season, but the club mounted a more serious challenge the following season, spending 11 weeks at the top of League Two before a decline in form meant the team had to enter the play-offs. Southend lost the play off semi-final against Crewe Alexandra 3–2 on aggregate.

Southend United at Wembley

A transfer embargo at the start of the 2012–13 season saw the club start its campaign with a depleted squad. However, a successful loan signing - Britt Assombalonga from Watford - helped Southend to a run of 14 games unbeaten which saw them reach 4th in the table. League form dipped in early 2013, but the club reached its first Wembley cup final in the Football League Trophy. Paul Sturrock was sacked two weeks before the cup final but was controversially asked to manage the team for the final. Sturrock refused and watched the game from the stand. The Blues took a record 33,000 fans to the match, but lost 2–0 to Crewe Alexandra.[30]

Phil Brown was brought in as Sturrock's successor but picked up just one win in his eight games in charge as Southend finished the season in 11th position, with only six league wins at Roots Hall all season. In 2015 Brown led the team, via a play-off final against Wycombe Wanderers (decided 7–6 on penalties), into League One.[31] At the end of the 2016–2017 season, the club missed the play-offs for the Championship by only one point.[32] The following season, Southend finished 10th, but slipped to 19th at the end of the 2018–2019 season, avoiding relegation on goal difference having finished equal on 50 points with relegated Plymouth Argyle.

On 22 October 2019, Sol Campbell was appointed manager of Southend.[33] Campbell took charge for his first game — a 3–1 home defeat to Ipswich Town — on 25 October.[34]


Financial difficulties[edit]

Financial difficulties, including a winding-up petition heard on 22 January 2020, resulted in non-payment of players' and other employees' wages in December 2019, after which players consulted with the PFA.[35] Club chairman Ron Martin paid £140,000 to fund players' wages, and reassured them it would not happen again.[36] The winding-up petition was dismissed after debts were cleared.[37] However, financial constraints prevented the club signing any new players in the January 2020 transfer window.[38] On 2 March, Martin confirmed Southend was under an EFL transfer embargo due to an unpaid tax bill,[39] while February's wages were not paid on time, resulting in further PFA involvement.[40] On 9 March, Southend was charged with misconduct by the EFL for failing to pay players on time, and for fielding an ineligible player against Lincoln City on 1 February[41] (on 2 June, Southend received a suspended three-point penalty and were fined £7,500 for these offences).[42] On 11 March, a further HMRC winding-up petition was adjourned - first to 29 April[43] then three more times,[44][45] eventually to 28 October 2020.[46]

Double relegation[edit]

In April 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, Southend put "several staff and some players" on furlough under the UK Government's emergency job retention scheme - a move criticised by the PFA who said the club had "consistently" let players down over wages.[47] On 9 June, Football League clubs in Leagues One and Two agreed to end the 2019–20 season; Southend were relegated to League Two.[48] The following day, the club announced it was putting the whole playing squad on furlough,[49] but players refused to accept the move.[50] On 30 June 2020, manager Campbell and three assistants left the club by mutual consent.[51]

On 13 August 2020, Southend United appointed Mark Molesley as their new manager on a three-year contract.[52] In October 2020, the club finally settled tax debts of £493,931 with HMRC; as a result, a winding-up petition was dismissed by the High Court.[53] On 9 April 2021, Molesley was sacked having only won eight games out of 45;[54] the club were 23rd, five points from safety with six games remaining. Phil Brown returned as manager[55][56] but could not rescue the situation; Southend suffered a second successive relegation on 1 May 2021, dropping out of the Football League after 101 years.[57] Brown subsequently agreed a two-year contract to manage the club.[58]

In April 2021, former Southend player Stan Collymore wrote to Martin offering to buy the club from him,[59] and held talks concerning the potential appointment of a Collymore associate as the club's CEO.[60] In May 2021, Tom Lawrence (formerly CEO at Gillingham) was appointed.[61] In August 2021, Southend revealed their overall debt in July 2019 was £17.4M, having grown by £2.4M; Martin said the majority of the debt was owed to his companies, and that £6.8M of debt had already been written off.[62] On 21 August 2021, Southend started their first season in the National League with a 1–0 victory at King's Lynn Town,[63] but a six-match winless streak led Phil Brown to describe Southend as stuck in a massive "chasm".[64] On 5 and 9 October 2021, Southend fans staged protests demanding the departure of chairman Ron Martin;[65] following a 4–0 defeat by Chesterfield at Roots Hall on 9 October, Brown was sacked.[66][67] Collymore offered further free support to the club, described by the BBC as "a mess" and "already on life support".[68] Defender Jason Demetriou took temporary charge[69] before, on 20 October 2021, Kevin Maher returned to the club as head coach.[70] Collymore was appointed the club's senior football strategist in early November 2021.[71] In December 2021, Southend was placed under a National League embargo because of HMRC debts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.[72] In May 2022, Southend finished their first National League season in 13th position.[73]

Further financial difficulties[edit]

On 30 September 2022, the club was placed under a transfer embargo after a missed HMRC payment.[74] In October 2022, HMRC issued a winding-up petition. A High Court hearing on 9 November was adjourned to 18 January 2023;[75] the transfer embargo remained in place. After members of staff were late receiving their October 2022 salaries,[76] the Shrimpers Trust and shirt sponsor PG Site Services each loaned the club £40,000.[77] November and some December 2022 wages for players and non-playing staff were also paid late.[78][79][80] CEO Lawrence said the club had a funding gap of about £2M a year; promotion to League Two would reduce current losses to more manageable levels; the club was then 6th in the National League.[79]

On 18 January 2023, the HMRC winding-up hearing was adjourned again, to 1 March 2023.[81] Martin was reported to be seeking a £5M loan to pay debts including £1.4M in unpaid tax owed to HMRC.[82] With players and other staff unpaid for January, anxious fans started planning a 'phoenix club'[83][84] and there were unsuccessful attempts to engage with Martin over a possible sale of the club.[85]

On 10 February 2023, St John Ambulance stopped providing first aid staff at Southend home games because of outstanding fees,[86] forcing the club to find alternative medical cover ahead of an FA Trophy tie with York City.[87] Players' January wages remained unpaid ahead of Southend's 25 February game at Torquay United,[88] and were eventually paid 28 days late; other staff had not been paid since November.[89] Less than 24 hours before the winding-up hearing, the club said it had paid the £1.4M tax bill, adding that "funds as working capital" had also been injected into the club.[90] The winding-up petition was dismissed after HMRC confirmed payment of the debt.[91] However, the transfer embargo remained in place;[92] sponsors talked of taking legal action against the club;[93] and supporters groups, fearing "the next crisis could be just around the corner", highlighted the "owner's inadequacies" and said a new beginning would only be possible "when a new structure and ownership is in place at the club".[94] On 30 April 2023, the club finished their second National League season in 8th position; non-playing staff at the club had not been paid for the past two months.[95]

Club put up for sale[edit]

On 17 March 2023, the club commenced a formal process to explore the sale of the club or to bring in new investment partners.[96][97]

Despite the February 2023 funds injection, the club's financial difficulties continued. On 6 April 2023, the club had paid all staff salaries up to March 2023, but some club office staff had yet to receive their March pay.[98] Further doubt over Southend United's ongoing financial viability[99] emerged on 4 May 2023 when the club was served another HMRC winding-up petition—their 18th[100]—due to be heard in the High Court on 17 May.[101] Three companies, including shirt sponsor PG Site Services and Engie Power, were also involved in the petition regarding a £275,000 debt,[102] but the hearing was adjourned to 12 July 2023, giving Martin more time to sell the club.[103][104]

On 31 May 2023, the club secured a court order unfreezing a bank account to enable it to pay players (keeping them at the club) and accountants,[105] but some club staff were still awaiting March or April wages in early June.[106] Players and backroom staff again went unpaid at the end of June,[107] and players refused to resume pre-season training until they were paid.[108][109] Backing the players' decision to suspend training, the Shrimpers Trust offered to support unpaid club staff.[110] While players were eventually paid, manager Maher and other backroom staff remained unpaid three days before the winding-up hearing, while club sale discussions were reportedly being held up by the stadium side of the transaction.[111] A lack of medical cover meant players could not resume training on club premises.[111] On 10 July, Martin told protesting fans the sale would not be completed before the winding-up hearing.[112] On 11 July, the water supply to the club's training facility was turned off due to unpaid bills.[113]

On 12 July 2023, the winding-up hearing was adjourned for a second time, to 23 August 2023, to allow further time for a sale to be concluded, amid doubts about the club's ability to meet National League requirements.[114] On 14 July 2023, a pre-season friendly against Billericay Town was cancelled 24 hours before its scheduled kick-off.[115][116] Southend reportedly had just 14 contracted players[116] and blamed "injuries to contracted players" for the postponement. Local MPs Anna Firth and Sir James Duddridge became involved, with Firth pressing Martin to provide the National League with a full list of football creditors, confirmation that all players and staff had been paid and a full safety certificate for Roots Hall.[117] On 17 July 2023, Martin said he would sell his stake in the club for £1, but wanted £4.5M for Roots Hall. The club also needed £1M "in the short term" to settle its latest HMRC winding-up petition and lift a transfer embargo.[118] In late July 2023, Martin told protesting fans—who he blamed for deterring potential bidders—that nobody had yet made him an offer on his terms.[119]

On 21 July 2023, the club was given court permission to pay £300,000 in football-related debts to remain in the National League.[120][121] Club staff were paid wages dating back up to three months on 26 July 2023,[122] and were finally up to date with their wages.[123][124] The National League licensed the club to participate in the 2023–24 season, but required it to pay its HMRC debt in full by 23 August 2023 (adjournment of the court hearing would not postpone this requirement) and to ensure all future football creditors or HMRC debts were cleared on time during the 2023–24 season. A breach of these conditions would result in an immediate and automatic 10 points deduction.[125]

To ready Roots Hall for the new season, the club cancelled another pre-season friendly, against AFC Wimbledon on 29 July.[126] On Sunday 30 July, over 160 fans volunteered to clean and paint the stadium to help it gain a new safety certificate.[127] With a matchday squad of just 15 players due to the club's transfer embargo, Southend won their opening two games of the season,[128][129] but lost the next two.[130] The future of the club's academy was also in doubt as it was no longer eligible for EFL funding.[131]

On 15 August 2023, former club chief executive Tara Brady confirmed he had tried to buy Southend United in July, only to be rebuffed by Ron Martin.[132]

Points deduction[edit]

On 23 August 2023, the winding-up hearing was adjourned for a third and final time, to 4 October 2023, with Judge Sebastian Prentis telling Martin if he was in charge of any other business it would have been wound up.[133] As part of the £275,000 HMRC debt remained outstanding,[134] the club were deducted 10 points by the National League[135] (it appealed unsuccessfully against the penalty).[136] Martin told the court he was "confident"[137][138] a sale to an Australian buyer—later named as Justin Rees[139]—should be finalised by the end of September. The judge said the club would be wound up if the deadline was missed.[140][141]

On 7 September 2023, Southend Council committed to considering investment in the club if it would aid its survival,[142] potentially by buying Roots Hall for Martin's £4.5M asking price.[143] It later emerged that the proposal might be financially supported by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities which had invited applications for grants of up to £2M from its community ownership fund.[144]

On 16 September 2023, Southend lost 3–0 at York City and had two players sent off.[145][146] The resulting suspensions, plus injuries to other players, left the club with just 10 available players ahead of a match against Maidenhead United on 19 September, with manager Kevin Maher appealing against the red cards and talking to the National League about bolstering his squad.[147] The club signed former West Ham goalkeeper David Martin to make his immediate debut, with Portuguese midfielder Mauro Vilhete one of just two substitutes,[148] as Southend won 2–0.[149]

On 20 September 2023, the Justin Rees consortium said it had made two bids to Ron Martin, but neither had been accepted. Few details of the consortium's latest bid were released, but—due to "the non-viability of a new stadium at Fossetts Farm"—it involved retaining and upgrading Roots Hall as the club's stadium, taking ownership of the stadium and the club's training ground, and Martin contributing funds towards Roots Hall's redevelopment.[150][151]

Meanwhile, fans staged an anti-Martin protest march to Roots Hall ahead of the club's National League tie against AFC Fylde on 23 September 2023.[152][153] Southend fielded a 14-man squad, and lost the game 2–1.[154] Two draws, at Aldershot Town[155] and at Rochdale, left Southend in 23rd place, three points from safety, on 30 September 2023.[156]

Sale to Justin Rees consortium[edit]

On 3 October 2023, the club confirmed that they had reached an agreement for the sale of the club to the Justin Rees consortium, with a formal takeover and completion date of 1 November,[157] later revised to 17 November 2023[158] and then the end of the month.[159] Details of the rescue deal were yet to be finalised, but reports suggested the club would remain at Roots Hall, with the 500 homes once planned for the site now transferred to Fossetts Farm[160] (a move agreed by Southend's council in early November).[161] The deal was announced the day before the High Court hearing of HMRC's winding-up petition, amid reports that the HMRC debt had now been paid,[162] and the winding-up petition was duly dismissed.[163]

On 4 December 2023, with the takeover still not completed, a Southend United supporters group said it would stage a protest unless an update on the club's sale was provided.[164] On 5 December, the consortium said due diligence had raised important issues which had required further time to resolve, and some legal and procedural work remained. The exact completion date would be confirmed "once it is locked in", and the consortium would work with HMRC and the National League to arrange for the simultaneous lifting of the transfer embargo.[165]

On 23 December 2023, Martin and the Rees consortium exchanged contracts for the sale of the club; the deal remained conditional upon Southend Council's approval of certain property transactions and the club ownership was expected to be formally transferred in February 2024.[166][167] However, on 8 March 2024, Southend CEO Tom Lawrence said final completion of the club's takeover could still be a couple of months away, being dependent upon a council review of the housing shift to Fossets Farm,[168] though it later emerged that obtaining the consent of Ron and son Jack Martin's finance partner (CBRE) was also delaying matters. As a result, one impatient creditor (Stewarts Law) petitioned for the club to be wound up (the club's 19th such petition);[169][170] the High Court hearing was subsequently adjourned.[171] On 6 April, Ron Martin said he expected to have sold the club by mid-May 2024.[170]

On the pitch, the delayed takeover and ongoing National League sanctions meant that Southend had just one substitute for their league game against Bromley on 16 December 2023;[172] after an injury to goalkeeper David Martin, right-back Gus Scott-Morriss finished the game in goal. Local MP Anna Firth cited this incident in a letter to the National League about its sanctions' "disproportionate" impacts on the club.[173] After 15 months, Southend's transfer embargo was lifted on 28 December 2023.[174] Southend finished the 2023–24 National League season in 9th place. Without the 10-point deduction they would have finished sixth.[175]

By 8 May 2024, it was clear the sale would not be completed by mid-May; the council's due diligence over plans for the housing at Fossetts Farm continued, while CBRE had yet to consent to the payment structure for the Roots Hall refurbishment.[176] At the club's winding-up petition hearing on 15 May, the consortium and Martin sought a six-week adjournment,[176] supported by Stewarts Law and two other creditors.[177] The club was given six weeks to settle with creditors or face liquidation.[178] As a consequence of the unresolved winding-up order, Southend was placed under a fresh transfer embargo on 17 May 2024.[179]

On 23 May 2024, after a Council update[180][181] and having provided £3.5m in funding to Southend, the Rees consortium said it was "increasingly concerned" that processes would not be completed.[182] On 7 June 2024, the consortium ("Custodians of Southend United", COSU) said Southend United could go out of business as a property element of the contract might not be signed ahead of the 26 June winding-up hearing date. Southend Council and the Martins were in renewed negotiations about the deal. The newly elected council leader Daniel Cowan blamed the previous administration for assurances that "fell outside of normal practice and were simply not achievable";[183] the Fossetts Farm housing developer (Citizen Housing) was said to be modelling a new proposal that would help safeguard the council from judicial review.[184] On 14 June 2024, Cowan confirmed the proposed development had failed the council's due diligence process. Citizen Housing and the Martin family were given until 21 June 2024 to respond to new council proposals,[185] with future council involvement dependent on COSU acquiring the club ("if COSU walk, so will we and we will not return").[186] While Citizen Housing had not met the council's 21 June deadline, there was sufficient progress to persuade Cowan to continue negotiations about new heads of terms ready for new due diligence.[187] Nonetheless, the Shrimpers Trust said they might start a phoenix club and make Roots Hall an asset of community value if needed.[188] Adding to the pressure, on 24 June 2024, the National League ordered Southend United to provide a £1m bond due to the ongoing uncertainty about their financial situation. The bond would remain in place until the COSU takeover was successfully concluded or the club could demonstrate it had sufficient resources to meet its financial obligations for the forthcoming season.[189] COSU criticised the move, saying the National League was "only making the situation more difficult to resolve".[190]

The day before the winding-up hearing, Stewarts Law announced they had reached a settlement with Southend United.[191] On 26 June 2024, a payment plan was agreed with a second creditor (PG Site Services, who were owed £350,000) and the winding-up petition was dismissed in the High Court with the club paying the creditor's costs.[192][193][194] On 2 July 2024, COSU was reported to have agreed terms with Ron Martin;[195] the takeover was likely to be agreed first, ahead of negotiations and due diligence about the housing plans.[196]

Club identity[edit]

Tables of kit suppliers and shirt sponsors appear below:[197]

Years Kit manufacturer Shirt sponsor
1975–1978 Admiral Motor Plan
1978–1981 Bukta Charterhouse
1983–1984 Motor Plan
1985–1986 Laing
1986–1988 Firholm
1988–1990 Spall
1990–1991 Hi-Tec
1991–1992 Beaver
1992–1994 Elonex
1994–1995 Crevette
1995–1996 United Artists
1996–1998 Olympic Sportswear Telewest Communications
1998–1999 Progressive Printing
1999–2000 Rossco
2000–2001 Pier Sport Rebus (Home)
Wyndham Plastics (Away)
2001–2002 Hi-Tec Rebus
2002–2003 Sport House Martin Dawn
2003–2004 Nike GKC Communications (Home)
Wyndham Plastics (Away)
2004–2006 Betterview Windows and Conservatories
2006–2014 InsureandGo
2014–2017 Martin Dawn
2017–2018 The Amy May Trust
2018–2019 Prostate Cancer UK
2019–2020 Paddy Power
2020–2021 Hummel Watchlotto.com
2021–2022 Macron Trade Price Cars
2022–2023 PG Site Services
2023–2024 Solopress


The club has played its home games at five grounds: the original Roots Hall, the Kursaal, the Southend Stadium, the rented New Writtle Street Stadium (home of Chelmsford City) and again at Roots Hall.[198]

Roots Hall was the first stadium that the club owned and was built on the site of their original home, albeit at a lower level. The site previous to Southend purchasing it in 1952 had been used as a sand quarry, by the council as a landfill site and by the local gas board (which was convinced to move to Progress Road).[198] The stadium was built by Sid Broomfield and a small band of individuals at a cost of £73,997, supported by a small grant from the FA and funds raised by the Supporters Club. Following construction, the ground was donated to the club by the fans.[199]

It took 10 years to fully complete the building of Roots Hall. The first game was played on 20 August 1955, a 3–1 Division Three (South) victory over Norwich City (attendance 12,190), but the ground was far from complete.[198] The main East Stand had barely been fitted and ran along only 50 yards of the touchline, and only a few steps of terracing encircled the ground, with the North, West and the huge South Bank still largely unconcreted. The North Stand had a single-barrelled roof which ran only the breadth of the penalty area, and the West Bank was covered at its rear only by a similar structure.[198]

Although the ground was unfinished, during the inaugural season this was the least of the club's worries, for the pitch at Roots Hall showed the consequences of having been laid on top of thousands of tonnes of compacted rubbish. Drainage was a problem, and the wet winter turned the ground into a quagmire. The pitch was completely re-laid in the summer of 1956 and a proper drainage system, which is still in place, was constructed, and the West Bank roof was extended to reach the touchline, creating a unique double-barrelled structure.[198]

The terracing was completed soon after, but the task of completely terracing all 72 steps of the South Bank was not completed until 1964. The North Bank roof was extended in the early 1960s, and the East Stand was extended to run the full length of the pitch in 1966. Floodlights were also installed during this period. Roots Hall was designed to hold 35,000 spectators, with over 15,000 on the South Bank alone, but the highest recorded attendance at the ground is 31,090 for an FA Cup third round tie with Liverpool in January 1979.[198]

Until 1988 Roots Hall was still the newest ground in the Football League, but then the ground saw a significant change. United had hit bad times in the mid-1980s and new chairman Vic Jobson sold virtually all of the South Bank for development, leaving just a tiny block of 15 steps.[198] In 1994, seats were installed onto the original terracing, and a second tier was added. The West Bank had already become seated in 1992 upon United's elevation to Division Two while the East Stand paddock also received a new seating deck, bolted and elevated from the terracing below. In 1995 the Gilbert & Rose West Stand roof was extended to meet up with the North and South Stands, with seating installed in each corner, thus giving the Roots Hall its current form, with a capacity of just under 12,500.[200]

On 24 January 2007, Southend Borough Council unanimously agreed to give planning permission for a new 22,000-seater stadium at the proposed Fossetts Farm site, with Rochford District Council following suit 24 hours later. The application was subsequently submitted to Ruth Kelly, then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, for government approval. However, the application was "called in" at the beginning of April 2007. The inquiry began in September 2007, followed in October 2007 by a "final" inquiry, when chairman Ron Martin called for supporters to show in numbers at Southend's local government headquarters. On 6 March 2008, permission to develop Fossetts Farm was given by the government.[201] However, it took a further 12 years before firm plans emerged for the development; in April 2020, a deal was agreed between Southend United, the borough council and social housing provider Citizen Housing.[202] Plans were approved in October 2021, subject to Government approval anticipated in early 2022; the 22,000-capacity stadium would incorporate a 107-bed hotel and high-rise residential blocks of 182 homes on two corners.[203]

In September 2022, after the club had been unable to get a hotel operator on board, plans to build a hotel at the proposed new stadium were dropped in favour of 42 additional homes, taking the total to 224 homes. A revised planning application also outlined plans to lower the stadium capacity to 16,226 seats.[204] In February 2023, applications for the additional homes and smaller stadium were both still to be decided by Southend Council as information had not been provided by the club.[205] Scaled-back plans for the ground were eventually submitted to the council in late March 2023.[206]

However, following agreement on the club's sale to the Justin Rees consortium on 3 October 2023, reports suggested the club would remain at Roots Hall, with the 500 homes once planned for the site now transferred to Fossetts Farm.[160]


Colchester United[edit]

Southend players

The club has an intense local rivalry with fellow Essex side Colchester United, which extends back many years.

However, at the end of the 1989–90 season, Southend's promotion from the Football League Fourth Division coincided with Colchester's fall from the Football League, so the clubs had to wait almost 15 years before meeting again in competition in 2004, when they contested the Southern Final of the Football League Trophy; the Shrimpers won 4–3 on aggregate, securing their first ever appearance in a national cup final. In the following season, the two clubs met again in an Essex derby match in the same competition, with Southend emerging as the victors once again after a penalty shootout.

The two clubs were promoted from League One at the end of the 2005–06 season, after a long battle for top spot was eventually won by Southend. The overall competitive head-to-head record for the rivalry stands at 34 wins for Southend, 30 wins for Colchester, and 17 draws.[207] The most recent match, and the largest Essex derby victory, was on 10 November 2020, when Colchester beat Southend 6–1 at the Community Stadium in an EFL Trophy group stage match.[208][209]

Leyton Orient[edit]

There is also a fierce rivalry between Southend and Leyton Orient, which arises from the time between 1998 and 2005, when the Essex club were Orient's geographically closest league rivals.[citation needed] Although the games between the two teams are eagerly anticipated, and Southend are considered to be Orient's main rivals, the Shrimpers see the London club as secondary rivals to Colchester United, for geographical and historical reasons.[210]

The Shrimpers beat the O's in the 2012–13 Football League Trophy Southern Area final. Southend won 1–0 at Brisbane Road in the first leg of the area final and drew 2–2 at Roots Hall in the second leg, winning 3–2 on aggregate, despite being in a lower division than Orient at the time, to book a place at Wembley in the final against Crewe Alexandra.


Current squad[edit]

As of 7 July 2024[211][212]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
2 DF England ENG Gus Scott-Morriss
3 DF England ENG Nathan Ralph (captain)
5 DF England ENG Adam Crowther
6 DF England ENG Ollie Kensdale
7 MF England ENG Jack Bridge
8 MF Afghanistan AFG Noor Husin
9 FW Scotland SCO Harry Cardwell
10 FW England ENG Danny Waldron
14 MF England ENG Jack Wood
No. Pos. Nation Player
16 MF England ENG Harry Taylor
17 MF England ENG Cav Miley
18 MF England ENG Wesley Fonguck
23 MF England ENG James Morton
24 DF Cyprus CYP Jason Demetriou
25 GK England ENG David Martin
28 MF England ENG Oli Coker
30 GK Cameroon CMR Collin Andeng-Ndi

Player of the Year[edit]

Season Winner
1965–66 Tony Bentley
1966–67 Trevor Roberts
1967–68 Billy Best
1968–69 John Kurila
1969–70 Billy Best
1970–71 Alex Smith
1971–72 Brian Albeson & Bill Garner
1972–73 Terry Johnson
1973–74 Chris Guthrie
1974–75 Alan Moody
1975–76 Alan Little
1976–77 Andy Ford
1977–78 Colin Morris
1978–79 Ron Pountney
1979–80 Ron Pountney
1980–81 Derek Spence
1981–82 Dave Cusack
1982–83 Ron Pountney
1983–84 Micky Stead
1984–85 Steve Phillips
1985–86 Richard Cadette
1986–87 Jim Stannard
1987–88 Dave Martin
1988–89 David Crown
1989–90 Paul Sansome
1990–91 Peter Butler
1991–92 Brett Angell
1992–93 Stan Collymore
1993–94 Chris Powell
1994–95 Ronnie Whelan
1995–96 Simon Royce
1996–97 Keith Dublin
1997–98 Julian Hails
1998–99 Mark Beard
1999–00 Nathan Jones
2000–01 Kevin Maher
2001–02 Darryl Flahavan
2002–03 Leon Cort
2003–04 Mark Gower
2004–05 Adam Barrett
2005–06 Freddy Eastwood
2006–07 Kevin Maher
2007–08 Nicky Bailey
2008–09 Peter Clarke
2009–10 Simon Francis
2010–11 Chris Barker
2011–12 Mark Phillips
2012–13 Sean Clohessy
2013–14 Ryan Leonard
2014–15 Dan Bentley
2015–16 Ryan Leonard
2016–17 Ryan Leonard
2017–18 Mark Oxley[213]
2018–19 Simon Cox
2019–20 Elvis Bwomono
2020–21 Shaun Hobson
2021–22 Steve Arnold
2022–23 Cav Miley

Top league scorer[edit]

Season Winner Starts Sub Goals
2000–01 David Lee 37 5 8
2001–02 Tes Bramble 32 3 9
2002–03 Tes Bramble 31 3 9
2003–04 Leon Constantine 40 3 21
2004–05 Freddy Eastwood 31 2 19
2005–06 Freddy Eastwood 34 6 24
2006–07 Freddy Eastwood 41 1 11
2007–08 Lee Barnard 11 4 9
2008–09 Lee Barnard 24 11 11
2009–10 Lee Barnard 25 0 15
2010–11 Barry Corr 32 9 18
2011–12 Bilel Mohsni 23 8 13
2012–13 Britt Assombalonga 40 3 15
2013–14 Barry Corr 30 10 13
2014–15 Barry Corr 39 6 14
2015–16 Jack Payne 28 7 9
2016–17 Simon Cox 39 5 16
2017–18 Simon Cox 42 2 10
2018–19 Simon Cox 42 3 16
2019–20 Charlie Kelman 12 6 5
2020–21 Tom Clifford 22 6 3
Timothée Dieng 34 1 3
2021–22 Sam Dalby 38 5 10
2022–23 Jack Bridge 34 7 13


Period Manager
1906–1910 Bob Jack
1910–1911 George Molyneux
1912–1919 Joe Bradshaw
1919–1920 Ned Liddle
1920–1921 Tom Mather
1921–1934 Ted Birnie
1934–1940 David Jack
1946–1956 Harry Warren
1956–1960 Eddie Perry
1960-1960 Frank Broome
1961–1965 Ted Fenton
1965–1967 Alvan Williams
1967–1969 Ernie Shepherd
1969–1970 Geoff Hudson
1970–1976 Arthur Rowley
1976–1983 Dave Smith
1983–1984 Peter Morris
1984–1986 Bobby Moore
1986–1987 David Webb
1987–1987 Dick Bate
1987–1988 Paul Clark
1988–1992 David Webb
1992–1993 Colin Murphy
1993–1993 Barry Fry
1993–1995 Peter Taylor
1995–1995 Steve Thompson
1995–1997 Ronnie Whelan
1997–1999 Alvin Martin
1999–1999 Mick Gooding
1999–2000 Alan Little
2000–2000 Mick Gooding
2000–2001 David Webb
2001–2003 Rob Newman
2003–2003 Stewart Robson
2003–2003 Steve Wignall
2003–2010 Steve Tilson
2010–2013 Paul Sturrock
2013–2018 Phil Brown
2018–2019 Chris Powell
2019–2019 Kevin Bond
2019–2019 Gary Waddock
2019–2020 Sol Campbell[214]
2020–2021 Mark Molesley
2021–2021 Phil Brown
2021– Kevin Maher



Position Person
Chief executive Tom Lawrence
Senior football strategist Stan Collymore[71]
Head coach Kevin Maher
Assistant head coach Darren Currie
First-team coach Mark Bentley
Goalkeeping coach David Martin
Head of football John Still

Club records[edit]

Honours and achievements[edit]




  1. ^ When the club was incorporated on 1 August 1906, Trigg was among the club's initial five directors, listed as proprietor of the Blue Boar Hotel; others were a licensed victualler (Frederick England, of the Nelson Hotel in Prittlewell), a London stock-broker (Charles Albert Stein), an agent (George Hutton Hogsflesh), and a merchant and cigar importer (Tom Stuart Tidy).[5]
  2. ^ As well as the initial five directors, the prospectus listed three additional shareholders: Andrew Ducat, a builder, Archibald Howard, a canvasser, and John Holton, a chartered accountant.[7]
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