Non-League Football: Wivenhoe face up to financial deadline: Dragons need money. reports

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The Independent Online
WHILE the leading clubs in the Premier Division of the Diadora League contest promotion to the GM Vauxhall Conference, in front of lucrative attendances that compare well to some Endsleigh League sides, Wivenhoe Town, the Essex team stranded at the foot of the division, are struggling to avert closure - and may be forced out of business after tomorrow's home game against St Albans City.

David Watts, the club's former chairman and the owner of their Broad Lane stadium, has given the Dragons a deadline of Sunday to raise about pounds 150,000 deemed necessary to keep the club afloat. Yesterday, Watts was waiting to be informed of a rescue plan put forward at an extraordinary general meeting of the club on Wednesday. If Watts is not satisfied by the proposals, he has threatened to close the ground next week. 'The club has cost me too much money over the years,' he said last night.

Mike Boyle, Wivenhoe's press officer, said yesterday: 'We still hope to see out the season. We are launching a public appeal, and we are approaching other possible sources of grants and funds, including our local council.'

After being promoted from the Essex Senior League in 1986, Wivenhoe rose rapidly to the top level of the Diadora, but they have faced troubled times since the loss of their financial backers. After Monday's 1-0 defeat at Grays, they are five points adrift at the bottom of the Premier Division. 'We are not accepting that relegation is inevitable,' Boyle insisted. 'Neither do we accept that resigning from the Diadora and returning to a lower league is the answer - that would not help us to market the club as a going concern.'

At the happier end of the Diadora Premier, Stevenage, the leaders, attracted a crowd of 2,483 for their derby against sixth-placed Hitchin on Monday - when the visiting Canaries sprang a surprise by coming from behind to snatch a 2-1 win. Tomorrow Stevenage, who have a three- point lead, travel to second- placed Carshalton, who drew 2-2 at Sutton United on Monday, watched by 1,644 punters at Gander Green Lane.

Monday's top attendance in the Conference - 3,938 - watched the leaders, Kidderminster Harriers, stroll to a 3-0 success in the Worcestershire derby at Bromsgrove Rovers. Kidderminster, who are two points ahead of Southport, entertain Bath City tomorrow and Halifax Town on Tuesday.

In the Beazer Homes League Premier Division, a crowd of 2,409 turned out at Gresley Rovers for Monday's derby against Burton Albion - which was won 4-0 by the visitors.

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