Poole flounder under the pressure of financial problems

Non-League football
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The Independent Online
Non-League football

RUPERT METCALF

If ever a club needs a change of fortune in the new year, it is Poole Town of the Beazer Homes League. Stranded at the bottom of the Southern Division, having lost all of their League games to date, Poole also face an uncertain long-term future as they lack a permanent home.

After Boxing Day's 4-2 home defeat by Weymouth, Poole's playing record in the Beazer is played 19, lost 19, with a goal difference of minus 73. However, they did have something to celebrate on Tuesday: they scored twice in a match for the first time this campaign.

Poole's dreadful financial state has meant that they have been unable to pay players this season, which is the main reason for their terrible results - they have been unable to compete with rival clubs with a wage budget. It has been a tough year for Poole's manager, Keith Miller, a former West Ham and Bournemouth defender: at the age of 47 he had to turn out in one recent League game when he was short of players.

"We are lucky that seven or eight senior players have decided to stick with the club," Mark Willis, Poole's secretary, said yesterday. "We've been filling the gaps with youth-team lads. They can cope with narrow defeats, but six or seven-goal beatings are hard to bear."

The club was obliged to vacate Poole Stadium, its base since 1933, last year. The local borough council has plans to develop the site for use as a speedway and greyhound venue, and has made it plain that there is no room for football as well. Town now share the County Ground with Hamworthy United, a Dorset Combination club, but efforts to develop this venue have been frustrated by planning permission problems.

Although the council has promised the club some financial assistance, it has been unable to assist so far in the search for a location for a new stadium, which is Town's ultimate ambition. "The determination to keep battling away has shone through in the last few months," Willis said. "We've been going for 115 years, so we'll do our best to survive a couple of tough ones."

n Marine, of the UniBond League, have been given pounds 10,000 by Bolton Wanderers following Jason McAteer's pounds 4.5m move from Burnden Park to Liverpool.

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