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Cambridge United

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Cambridge United file for administration.. is this the end of the U's?

On Friday 29th April, Cambridge United Football Club filed for administration after a thorough review of the club's financial situation. So what does this mean for the fans?

Fans' Forum

There will be a special Fans' Forum at the U's Supporters' Club on Tuesday 3rd May where Cambridge United followers will get their first opportunity - since the club filed for administration last Friday - to ask questions to representatives from the board of directors, club officials and football staff. The Forum takes place at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.  Panellists confirmed so far are Fans' Director Brian Attmore and new Commercial Director Justyn Medd. The football staff will be represented by Andy Duncan.  Early arrival is recommended as capacity at the venue is limited.

The full story...

Six days after they were formally relegated from the Football League, Cambridge United Football Club Limited filed in the Chancery Court on Friday morning to enter administration.

According to the club's official website, the decision to file for administration was taken this week "after a thorough review of the club's financial situation and detailed discussions with insolvency experts, Grant Thornton."

"It's been a dreadful season in all ways... this gives the people of Cambridge and the supporters of Cambridge the chance to start afresh."
Roger Hunt, Cambridge United Chairman

Finance Director Nick Pomery explained: "The club has liabilities of around £900,000 and assets which are in no way sufficient to meet these debts. Our relegation to the Conference, confirmed on Saturday, means that it is not feasible that these liabilities can be paid off by trading profitably over the forthcoming season. We therefore have no choice but to file for administration."

After such a tumultuous season, this statement won't be a surprise to many of the fans. By deciding to file for administration now it means that as the season continues for the U's, they will automatically have ten points deducted... This of course, makes no difference now they've been relegated. By doing it now rather than later it means they'll be on equal terms when they start next season in the Conference.

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's Sports Editor Jonathan Park explains: "The administrator's main aim is to keep the business running. They'll have a thorough look at what's going on and where the club are spending money. They'll have to make some tough decisions and it's probable that staff will be made redundant and players will be sold. The bottom line is how can the club keep going by spending the least amount of money..."

It also means people who are owed money by the club may not be paid, although Finance Director Pomery has said that "suppliers have assurance that any future supplies ordered by administrators will be paid for in full."

Roger Hunt
Roger Hunt

The administrators will also be looking at the rental payments for the ground which they need to meet, currently £200,000 a year. This is part of the contract with Bideawhile 445 Ltd who bought the stadium in November 2004.

Minutes after the announcement was made, Sports Editor Jonathan Park spoke to United Chairman Roger Hunt who believes this is a fresh start for the club. He said: "It's been a dreadful season in all ways... this gives the people of Cambridge and the supporters of Cambridge the chance to start afresh."

Asked whether it's possible to keep the squad together he said: "It's always going to be difficult because we've only got four players in contract for next season. Like every club, you try and negotiate new contracts - it's obviously going to be a bit harder going into the Conference, but there are other players that think it's a good opportunity."

Regarding the situation with rental payments for the ground, Hunt said: "It was already paid quarterly in advance which I think expires on the 23rd of June. John Howard has already agreed with the administrator that he will waive the rent completely for the next three months to get us through this period and to help the club come out of administration. So that is a very good gesture, in fairness."

Responding to a question about the timing of going into administration Hunt said: "To be really, really honest [the decision] should have been taken perhaps when we didn't get the ITV Digital money. We've struggled on and struggled on and all it's done is make the spiral even worse and we've ended up where we have. We should have really taken the decision a lot sooner than we have.

"This large debt was hanging over us, no chance of meeting it, really there was no other alternative." Talking about the local companies and suppliers who won't be paid Hunt said: "That has been the main reason for not going into administration before now. Because we are very mindful of these local businesses, most of which do support us very strongly on and off the pitch anyway, and they are true Cambridge United fans. That actually is the hardest pill to swallow and I really can't give a satisfactory answer that would suit me, let alone anybody else."

After a question from a Radio Cambridgeshire listener about where the debt has come from, Hunt said: "After the ground was sold we did clear all our debts. At that particular time there was a significant shortfall on our gate income and the biggest debt was from Customs and Excise - having sold the ground there was VAT on that sale and that was a big bill. To get through this close season now, with relegation we've obviously lost a lot of Football League income... it is impossible, and that is the major creditor."

Asked what will happen to manager Steve Thompson, Hunt said: "It's the administrators decision really. We are working very closely with the administrator, but to be honest it's a bit too early to call that one and I'll sit down and talk to Steve first."

The U's Chairman doesn't see this as the end of the club: "It simply draws the line under a very, very sad season."

Crisis Timeline:

29th November 2004: At an emergency meeting, Cambridge United shareholders approved the sale and lease back of the Abbey Stadium for £1,923,000 to Bideawhile 445 Ltd.

12th December 2004: Manager Herve Renard is sacked.

28th December 2004: Steve Thompson appointed as manager.

17th January 2005: Cambridge Fans United announce plans to 'Buy back the Abbey' at their AGM.

29th January 2005: Cambridge lose a crucial match against Kidderminster, leaving them trailing at the bottom of the League Two table.

31st January 2005: At the club's AGM it was revealed that Cambridge United has just 28 days to save itself. Four hours before the meeting a formal offer was made to buy the club by one of the U's directors Johnny Hon. The Hong-Kong born business man along with two associates make an offer to buy a controlling interest in the club.

7th February 2005: Following Gary Harwood's decision to step down as Chairman of Cambridge Utd, Roger Hunt takes over the reigns. Gary Harwood continues as a Director at the Abbey.

22nd February 2005: Thompson's first win after 11 games in charge. The U's win 1-0 at home to Cheltenham.

5th April 2005: Landlords Bideawhile Limited reject a £2.2m bid to buy the Abbey Stadium. Dr Johnny Hon offers to loan the club the money but Bideawhile director and club vice-chairman John Howard rejects the offer. Cambridge chairman Roger Hunt says he is "extremely disappointed."

15th April 2005: Dr Johnny Hon resigns from the board of Cambridge United.

23rd April 2005: Cambridge United are officially relegated from the Football League after 0-0 draw with Rochdale.

26th April 2005: Under-fire Cambridge vice-chairman and land-lord John Howard reassures supporters the Abbey Stadium is in safe hands: "Football will be played at Abbey Stadium for 50 years, unless the directors and shareholders feel the best thing is to relocate. The ground is safe in the short-term, no matter what people may think."

29th April 2005: Cambridge United Football Club file for administration. Ten points automatically deducted.

last updated: 09/05/05
Have Your Say
Could administration have been avoided? What went wrong for the club this season, and how do you think the club should move forward next season?
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Cambridge United and Cambridge City should join together to make one team in whatever league the FA put them in!!

steve (bristo)
i think you sold your ground on the cheap why not ground share with cambridge city/

Yes - let's have a stronger club for Cambridge - provided it plays in black and white and is called Cambridge City FC. Otherwise forget it. Rob (City fan).

Cambridge got it all wrong. They underachieved. When they got relegated from Division 2 in 2002, everybody was expecting them to bounce back. They didnt. The only united can do is bring the youngsters. The Old stars are lacking belief and have no desire to play for cambridge. Bringing in french players was a total waste. United need to move on and build a new team. A New era

The only way forward is for the fans to take control of the club and run it through a Supporters' Trust. I am a Wrexham fan, and we are in the middle of the same trauma that you are just about to enter. Be strong - defeat the money-men who want to kill off small clubs, and hopefully we'll come out the other end. People like Howard need to be flushed out of the game.

i can't understand why United and City don't join forces. it makes more sense and it would be a stronger club for cambridge.

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