Southend United faced serious financial and legal difficulties earlier this week. The English club had previously endured years of problems under the current ownership of Ron Martin.

After taking the Shrimpers all the way to the Championship in 2006, the club was quickly relegated. After just one season in the second tier league, Southend eventually fell all the way out of the English Football League.

Financial issues worsened in recent years as the club dropped to the fifth tier National League.

Southend were even docked 10 points in August due to increasing debt. The Shrimpers then faced possible liquidation from the courts this week. Government officials were set to issue a winding-up order at the club on Wednesday.

Nevertheless, things drastically changed in the final hours of the previous day.

Fan group helped pay for club expenses during tough times

Southend announced at 5PM on Tuesday that Martin agreed to sell the club to a group led by Australian businessman Justin Rees.

The decision was welcomed by fans inside Roots Hall as the club was set to face Oxford City. Southend celebrated the good news by beating their opponents 2-0 on the night.

However, the fans were active in keeping the club going more than just attending matches. According to a report by The Guardian, a Southend supporter group called the Shrimpers Trust first help raise awareness of Martin’s failed ownership.

They then even chipped in to pay for staff wages and other club costs during extreme financial difficulties.

The Shrimpers Trust issued a statement regarding the impending sale of the club upon news of the deal. “It is a relief that this deal has been confirmed, at the 11th hour,” stated the group.

“While we have had the opportunity to meet with the head of the new consortium, Justin Rees, and have maintained a dialogue with him over a period of time, we are keen for the identities of the other members of the consortium and full details of their proposed ownership structure to be disclosed.”

New majority owner says move ‘makes perfect sense’

Rees spoke about his decision to buy Southend on Friday. While some may question the risky deal, the Australian millionaire claims that the purchase “makes perfect sense” to him. “Why a football club, and why a football club in distress? It may seem strange to others but those that know me say, ‘you love football, you love businesses, you like challenges, you like driving things, it kind of makes perfect sense’,” proclaimed Rees.

Southend followed up their victory against Oxford City with another win away to Woking on Saturday.

Despite the 10-point deduction, the Shrimpers moved up to 19th in the National League table with the win. They are currently one point out of the relegation zone with 31 league matches remaining on the schedule. The club is expected to officially change hands in November.

Photo credit: IMAGO / Focus Images