Thursday 29th January 2004

Time to save Margate Football Club

Supporters of troubled Margate Football Club are drawing up contingency plans to enter the club into the Go Travel Kent League next season, writes Graham Jones

The Gate have until next Monday to find an investor who will complete the funding package for a £5m redevelopment of their Hartsdown Park ground.

They need to return to their home stadium for the start of next season or face automatic relegation from the Nationwide Conference.

Supporters have been looking at what options will be available to them if the plans collapse.

Ian Day, chairman of the Margate Supporters' Association said: "We hope we never have to put these plans into place but, if the club folds, it is important the supporters' club is seen to be doing something.

"Even if we end up at a lower level of football, it is a case that some football is better than no football at all.  We have made a few inquiries about where we can apply to join and about what the criteria would be.

"We are also looking at what the level of support from the council, who would still love to see the current project succeed, would be.

"Joining the Kent League would be the preferable option, although it is not just as straight forward as dropping down three or four divisions."

Mr Day said the fans had been magnificent in their support for the club during such a difficult time.  He added: "We are keeping our fingers crossed but, at the same time, it is hard for some of them to realise just how close to the brink Margate are."

Vice-chairman Keith Piper attended a supporters meeting last week at which he told fans about the Monday deadline.

Mr Piper said he would hold talks with two prospective investors, but was under no illusions about the size of the task.

He admitted that if another investor was not found the club could be forced into liquidation.

The club's fans are also looking at the prospect of forming a Supporters' Trust, a method which has provided invaluable support at other troubled clubs.

Report by www.kentonline.co.uk

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