Reynolds in 'terrible panic' over prospect of meeting Chelsea
FA Cup: Potential financial rewards deter Scarborough chairman from tempting fate in third-round replay with Southend
Tuesday 13 January 2004
Malcolm Reynolds hopes to wake up on Thursday morning in a blind panic. Should Scarborough overcome South-end tomorrow evening, Reynolds will have nine days to organise the biggest match in the club's history, a home game, probably against Chelsea, in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
As chairman, he has insisted that Scarborough will not tempt fate by making any preparations for the tie before the third-round replay with Southend, earned by Scott Kerr's goal at Roots Hall, is concluded. Chelsea, in any event, still have to overcome Watford but since that game is at Stamford Bridge, the odds are stacked in Claudio Ranieri's favour.
"If it all goes well, I'll be in a terrible panic on Thursday. It will be all hands to the pump," said Reynolds, who has just seen the club come out of administration. "We have a good back-room team here and they will be doing everything in their power to organise the match."
For a club mid-table in the Conference, the rewards are enormous and do not depend on Chelsea beating Watford, something they have managed only once at home since 1979. Sky has agreed to screen the match between the winners of the two replays whatever the result.
"We would be paid £265,000 for the televised game, we would get £50,000 for winning this tie against Southend, and we could expect to make £30,000 in advertising, and that is before you look at the gate," he said. "Beating Southend would be worth up to half a million pounds. That would very nearly pay the wage bill for the next two years."
Reynolds hopes that it would also stimulate the club's move to a new stadium, a 15-and-a-half-acre site on the edge of town. In the manner of most new grounds, the plans encompass more than just a football pitch and stands, although, refreshingly, there is not the usual hotel - a commodity Scarborough has plenty of - and retail park.
"We've hardly been able to manage our own club financially so we could hardly go round giving instructions on how to run a retail park," Reynolds said. "What we want to create is a centre of sporting excellence with an athletics track, tennis courts and sports hall. There is nothing like that in Scarborough and we have a huge catchment area."
It is an admirable concept and to push it forward, they "only" have to beat a team third from bottom of the Third Division. If Ranieri seeks any omens, he should be warned that the last Chelsea manager to come to the McCain Stadium lost his job immediately afterwards. Bobby Campbell, having drawn 1-1 in the first leg of a League Cup tie in 1989, saw his team lose the second leg 3-2 and found his chairman, Ken Bates, in a typically unforgiving mood. Roman Abramovich's reaction is unlikely to be less brutal.
In another corner of Yorkshire, they face a similar situation, although at Millmoor they know that should Rotherham overcome Northampton tonight, they will definitely host Manchester United. Again, the financial rewards are the same: £50,000 for beating the Third Division club, and then £265,000 from Sky for the televised fourth-round tie. The difference is that, according to Rotherham's chief executive, Phil Henson, this would pay the club's wages for a month.
"It's not going to be a life-changing experience, and I think that's a sign of how far the club has come," said Henson. He spent three years at Rotherham playing alongside Ronnie Moore, who as the Millers' manager has transformed the fortunes of a club which had resigned itself to football's backwaters. "It would help to pay a bit off the overdraft [which stands at £1.6m] and it would be up to the chairman whether he wants to release some funds for player recruitment."
Despite Moore's Herculean efforts in dragging Rotherham from the Third to the First Division, the collapse of ITV Digital has ensured that the power in the First Division lies with clubs who can attract big gates, and Rotherham have never been one of those. Even though they finished 15th last season, Moore had to sell his leading striker, Alan Lee, and the wage bill alone increased by £500,000 in the last financial year.
But for the debts being underwritten by the chairman, Ken Booth, one of the success stories of the last few years would be in danger of administration and plans to build a new stand, which would increase Millmoor's capacity to 14,000, have stalled.
"We are £2.5m adrift of the funding target for the stand and the chairman has said he will not underwrite that," Henson said. "We need new investors and, if they come forward, we can turn Millmoor into something it has never been before, somewhere which can host conferences, banquets and have corporate boxes. Playing Manchester United may help with that but it won't pay for it."
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