The Future is Bleak – It’s 1998…

Down the years the views and opinions of fans here at Edgar Street have often been ignored. Talking Bull has endeavoured to provide the fans with an independent fanzine since 1989, so supporters can express themselves.

Here is a classic article which first appeared in the Christmas Edition of Talking Bull in 1998.

I’ve been very disturbed to read recent articles in Talking Bull in which certain fans seem resigned to a move away from Edgar Street. They make it seem as if such a move is inevitable and there’s not much we can do about it. It is not inevitable, it is not desirable, and it’s probably not feasible. The sooner we all realise this the sooner we can make some sensible moves to securing the future of professional football in Hereford.

Hereford United (1939) is in deep financial trouble. So deep the only plan for survival involves selling a ground we don’t own to property speculators and getting a small percentage of the profit. Assuming this was remotely realistic – and it isn’t – where would it leave us? The club would end up with precisely nothing – it would have paid off its debts, but would have less money than it would cost to build a new ground.

In fact, we’ll be worse off than we are now – at the moment we can still play on despite our debts – without a ground we are effectively dead. The only people to benefit from the sale of the ground will be the property speculators and a few major shareholders in the club – precisely the people saying that it is the only way forward.

Rather than wringing our hands and saying the whole thing is inevitable we should be directing our energies towards securing the future of professional football in Hereford. This is not the same thing as financially underwriting a specific company – namely HUFC (1939). The fact is that HUFC (1939) has very little hope of survival short of a miracle – and as supporters know miracles have been in short supply at Edgar Street recently.

We have to be realistic and assume that with debts of over £1 million on which it cannot even service the interest the company will probably go under anyway. In this case what should we do?

The best course of action would be:

  • HUISA to form a new club – at this stage just a limited liability company. It should then sell shares to the fans to ensure that the share base is widely distributed – and no one person has a controlling interest.
  • Get the council on board to support the idea of a future for professional football at Edgar Street. This is what we want and what the council wants. We’re not asking them to bung us taxpayer’s assets to enrich a few people. All we want is a lease deal as before and good relations with the council.
  • Ask the council to enforce the conditions of the lease transfer – so the BS group must make good its promise to rebuild the Sportsmans’ Club and renovate the ground. If BS group fail to do this by the end of the season the lease transfer should be revoked.
  • Provisionally register the new club for a regional feeder league.
  • One of two things will then happen at the end of the season.

EITHER, Hereford United (1939) goes under – and we have another club ready to take its place immediately. With the council’s support we can pick up the lease on Edgar Street. We’d be starting with a brand-new club with no money in a much lower league but without any debts and with a new structure in place. That’s a far better position than we’re in at the moment. We’d still have an excellent level of support and one of the best grounds in the country. A few years working our way up through the lower leagues has got to be worth that.

OR, The biggest miracle since Lazarus sees Hereford United (1939) pay off its debts and stay in business – at least for a while. Then all we’ve lost is the money setting up a new company – one which is standing in the wings ready to take over if anything goes wrong again.

Of course, this plan won’t please those who stand to make big money out of the sale of Edgar Street. But ignore their self-interest and let’s have a community-based club again. I’d be happy to support a new team in the same colours at the same ground climbing their way up through the minor leagues. How long would it take us to get back to where we belong?

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