Opinion: Sheffield FC can survive

The Star: Opinion
The Star: Opinion
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Being the oldest football club on the planet is a unique and wonderful brand which brings kudos and honour to our city.

But being the world’s first soccer outfit does not mean they are immune to modern day financial challenges.

Frankly, Sheffield FC are in a mess. They have had to dock the (relatively modest) wages they play to a small pool of non league players. They have lost players to other teams.

Yet it doesn’t seem that long ago that Sheffield FC were on the lips of football’s biggest names. In 2007, when they were celebrating 150 years in existence, they wooed the great and the good, the likes of Brazilian legend Pelé and Sepp Blatter, the Fifa kingpin, to the city.

A total of 18,741 watched a friendly between “Club” and Inter Milan. There were suggestions they would move from Dronfield back into their “spiritual home” in Olive Grove.

Fast forward to 2014 and the wolf is at the door. They are struggling for customers in a depressed market place and are losing the ability to compete at the top end of the division.

Potential investors have been talking to chairman Richard Tims for months without signing up. It may be the summer before they do...if they do.

Sheffield FC are stuck in Dronfield, with little chance of moving back from Derbyshire. Their pitch is frequently a quagmire.

Tims and team manager Ian Whitehead work tirelessly, along with other volunteers, to keep the club alive. We commend them for the loving care they put into the organisation. But the truth is that Sheffield people know little about the modern day Sheffield FC and have little affinity with it.

It is one thing to be known in the wider football community but another to be unknown on your doorstep.

Moves are afoot to improve their footprint in our community.

If they work they will survive and can even blossom.

We wish them well – our city cannot afford to be without the world’s first club.

Bob Westerdale