Inside Southend's chaos who could still go out of business, struggle with wages, a transfer ban and best players pinched | The Sun

Inside Southend's chaos who could still go out of business, struggle with wages, a transfer ban and best players pinched | The Sun

DOES ANYONE in football have a harder job right now than Southend United boss Kevin Maher?

Anyone complaining about the plight at their club may wish to examine the sheer amount of adversity he has had to face on a daily basis.

For Maher – who essentially becomes club spokesperson in the absence of mute chairman Ron Martin – every week presents new challenges.

No wages, losing his best players, no money to spend on recruits – the Essex outfit have been under a transfer embargo since September – and the genuine threat of extinction.

Far removed from the riches of the Premier League lie a National League side like Southend for whom every month, let alone season, is a fight for survival.

Had an outstanding £1.4million tax bill not been paid last week to HM Revenue & Customs they could have well gone under like Bury.

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Until February 28, players and backroom staff had not been paid their wages for 2023.

The last-minute cash injection from Martin – despised in the eyes of the fans – arrived just the day before the club’s winding-up hearing at the High Court.

Speaking in a dilapidated media room with water leaks falling from the ceiling, Maher said: “It’s obviously a relief, a massive relief.

“There are always tough things in football. But you put things in perspective in life.

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“You get to play football every day. That’s what we speak to the players about.

“Listen, you have to show a bit of character – that’s life.

“You pick yourself up and keep going again. Players do that. And we do that as staff.

“There are certain obstacles at this football club that we have had to deal with.

“It’s not just me, there are people behind the scenes who do an incredible amount of work. Players and staff, we do our best every day.”

Regardless of the circumstances, the support is there and though they lost 1-0 against Barnet last Friday night, more than 7,000 fans came to Roots Hall for a fifth-tier fixture.

Those who attended made their feelings known until the intervention of stewards.

There were protests in the first half with supporters holding aloft A4 pieces of paper saying: ‘MARTIN OUT! Making a killing, killing our club.’

More bad news arrived over the weekend as Polish defender Kacper Lopata revealed he was no longer a Southend player after terminating his employment and becoming a free agent “due to a serious breach of contract”.

Yet despite everything thrown at him, Maher is getting results and the players are performing for him.

Somehow eighth-placed Southend remain in the hunt for Football League promotion and after Tuesday's home clash with Shrewsbury, they travel to moneybags Wrexham next Saturday.

The contrast between the North Wales club owned by Hollywood stars who are investing and embracing the local community and the mess left by Martin could not be greater.

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Maher added: “I look forward to coming to work. I love my job. I’m involved in football every day, which is what you grew up as a kid wanting to do.

“The challenges you have to overcome. We kept telling the players, if they keep going and digging in, you never know where you are going to end up.”

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