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'.

MAIDSTONE UNITED

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).

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015