Kerr confronts challenge of saving Scarborough

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The Independent Online

These are troubled times at Scarborough FC, who are a long way away from reclaiming the Football League place they surrendered in 1999 and are instead in danger of slipping down into the UniBond League – if they can survive the current season.

Tomorrow the struggling Seadogs, who occupy the highest of the three Nationwide Conference relegation positions, face a daunting journey to tackle the leaders, Dagenham & Redbridge. They will be under new management, Ian Kerr having been promoted from youth-team coach to replace Neil Thompson, who left by mutual consent last week.

"The only way for us to go is onwards and upwards," Kerr said when asked to assess the challenge he faces. Easier said than done, given the problems Scarborough must confront. They are reportedly £2m in debt – some cheques issued by the club in recent weeks have bounced – and they have been threatened with winding-up orders, including one which is due to be heard in court next month.

Furthermore, players' wages have not been paid on time during the past month, which has led to the exit of some members of an already small squad – Scarborough operate without a reserve team.

Before his departure a frustrated Thompson, a former Ipswich Town full-back, said: "I am being asked to freshen up things with regard to the team. Getting paid would freshen them up."

The Seadogs were in similar financial plight in the summer of 2000. They were rescued by the insurance entrepreneur Brooks Mileson, but he sold his controlling interest in April this year in order to pursue a bid for Carlisle United which is still ongoing.

The hard-pressed current chairman is the 34-year-old Darrell Littlewood, the head of a Halifax-based debt-collecting business.

Littlewood blamed "cash-flow problems" for the failure to pay wages on time. The club now claim that salary payments are up to date, but there is a long way to go on and off the field before Scarborough are in anything like a healthy position.

* The Football Association's Council last week approved a decision made by its League Sanctions Committee to block the Conference's proposed play-offs system, which would have denied automatic promotion to the champions.

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