Football: Maidstone resign from League as debts rise: Henry Winter on the demise of another football club, left without money or ground

MAIDSTONE United, troubled by substantial debts and 20 miles from their natural home, yesterday resigned from the Football League, saying they were unable to fulfil their Third Division fixtures. They had no ground to play on.

Coming two days after the launch of the Premier League's rich new ball game, Maidstone's demise highlights the schism between the elite and the needy. 'Last week we had the Premier League turning down millions in sponsorship money, the sort of money that would keep the whole lower division in business,' Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, said.

Maidstone, a well-run non-League side founded in 1897, lasted only three seasons in the League, an elevated status that they were unable to cope with. 'I feel particularly sad for the hard-core supporters who came into the League on a dream ticket and saw it turn to disaster,' Taylor added.

'The climate at the lower end is such that the League must be wary of who they let in. They must have good financial backing. Not just to pay the players but because of ground improvements. It is very expensive being in the Football League,' Taylor said.

Many were surprised that the League had allowed Maidstone in. Adrift from their original home, which was not considered large enough, the future of the roving Stones was always in doubt. The League admits this. 'Since Maidstone, the rules on clubs coming into the League have been tightened up,' Ian Cotton, the League's spokesman, said. 'No club would be allowed to play so far from their natural base.'

Maidstone will be missed, but not replaced. Cotton said that the lowest division will continue with 22 clubs, down from 24 after the collapse of Aldershot in March and now Maidstone. Wycombe Wanderers, runners-up to Colchester United in the Conference, will not be allowed to step up. 'It would have been impossible as other Leagues have got their seasons sorted out,' Cotton said.

Reading, who were due to meet the Kent club in the Coca-Cola Cup tomorrow night, will receive a bye to the second round.

Maidstone's problems started when they were admitted to the League in 1989. They had moved from their London Road ground in Maidstone to Watling Street in Dartford and saw attendances fall. Their average gates dropped from 2,427 to 1,429 last season. 'The 40 miles of travelling got to them,' Cotton added.

On the field Maidstone prospered briefly reaching the play- offs, before losing to Cambridge United. The two clubs have been going in markedly different dierctions since.

John Waugh, the new chairman from Tyneside who bought the club from Jim Thompson three weeks ago, had tried to arrange a ground- sharing scheme with a North-eastern club after the Watling Street ground they shared with non- League Dartford was sold last month. The League refused to countenance a move north, telling Waugh that Maidstone must remain in Kent.

Despite the selling of players like Warren Barton (to Wimbledon for pounds 300,000, Mark Gall (Brighton, pounds 45,000) and Steve Butler (Watford, pounds 150,000), the debts have continued to mount, reaching a reported pounds 650,000. Club officials tried to find another base in Kent, but without success. With only two registered players, they were unable to play last Saturday's League game at Scunthorpe United. 'Time has run out,' a statement from the club said yesterday.

Waugh added: 'I've spent all weekend exhausting attempts to save the club. It became clear by early this morning that we couldn't do it. Everyone at the club is shattered.'

The registations of the two players - the former Crystal Palace defender, Gary Stebbing, and the forward Glen Donegel - revert to the League. The PFA has been helping the players. 'We are probably pounds 50,000 out of pocket in payment of wages,' Taylor added.

The final irony is Maidstone's inclusion in the current Rothmans Football Yearbook. On the sponsored shirts of the players, who are all now looking for new jobs, is one word. 'Prosperity'.


Club formed: 1897.

Promoted to Football League: 1989.

Previous leagues: East Kent, Thames & Medway Combination, Kent, Corinthian, Athenian, Isthmian, Southern, Alliance Premier, GM Vauxhall Conference.

Record win: 6-1 v Scunthorpe, Fourth Division, 15 September 1990.

Record defeat: 2-6 v Fulham, Autoglass Trophy, 23 October 1991.

Best performances: League: Fifth in Fourth Division 1989-90. FA Cup: Third round. League Cup: First round.

Other clubs to lose League status. 1951 New Brighton (not re-elected). 1960 Gateshead (not re-elected). 1962 Accrington Stanley (resigned). 1970 Bradford Park Avenue (not re-elected). 1972 Barrow (not re-elected). 1977 Workington (not re-elected). 1978 Southport (not re-elected). 1992 Aldershot (resigned).

Shoppers at Selfridges department store in central London

Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
i100(More than you think)
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey


Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game