2010/11: Football – a matter of life or death?

There are currently clubs who consider themselves to be in “crisis”, perhaps they should reflect on their choice of phrase in light of the recent events at Croydon Athletic.

 Last season the south London club nicknamed “The Rams” won the Isthmian League Division One South title and started life in the Isthmian Premier, one division below the Conference South in 2010. This was a remarkable achievement for a team that only came into existence in 1986.

The club, bought in 2008 by Mazhar Majeed, a UK based property developer, looked to have a bright future. The London outfit showed their intent in the pre-season with a number of signings, many of whom had professional experience.

As the football season got underway, in the world of cricket a major scandal was emerging which has had a devastating impact on the Croydon club. Owner Mazhar Majeed as well as a property developer, also has a role as an agent for some members of the Pakistan cricket team. Allegations were made that Majeed was involved in spot-fixing during the Test matches between England and Pakistan. As a result Croydon Athletic was investigated by HM Revenues and Customs with regard to allegations that the club owner had been using the club for money-laundering purposes. These claims were captured by an undercover journalist.

Since that point the club has been in turmoil. The management team left the club in early September and matches in the League were postponed. Their FA Cup tie with Kingstonian was forfeited and players uncertain of the clubs future left in droves. However, there has been hope on the pitch, with the bond required by the League now in place, caretaker managers Dave Garland and Bob Langford have managed to get a team back together and “The Rams” are once again fulfilling their fixtures.

On Saturday Croydon Athletic travelled to Hendon and suffered a 4-0 defeat. The most devasting news that day though was that club chairman, David Le Cluse, had been found dead, in an apparent suicide.

‘Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I’m very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.’ Bill Shankly