SOUTHEND UNITED face the very real prospect of going out of business due to their perilous financial situation.
The National League outfit, who boast a 116-year history, are in serious financial trouble with unpaid players and staff and an outstanding HMRC bill.
A winding up order has been adjourned, but the club are continuing to lose £2million per year.
According to The Mail, chairman Ron Martin has until March 1 to find a seven-figure sum or risk the extinction of the club.
Back-to-back relegations in 2020 and 2021 have seen the Essex-based club drop from the third tier to outside the EFL.
And they have been placed under a transfer embargo due to their economic situation.
Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling brought the horrendous situation to the attention of viewers during Soccer Saturday over the weekend.
He said: “This is very much the crisis club, Southend United.
“A winding up order has been adjourned, but that debt to HMRC is described as large and the chief executive this week said Southend are losing £2 million a year.
“Some office staff have not been paid for December or January. They owe money to the St John’s Ambulance and are under a transfer embargo.
“Southend United are a football club on the edge of a precipice at the moment and I know all their fans want to make people generally aware of just what a situation they are in.
“It is a perilous situation, despite the fact that on the pitch, that intrinsically in the top nine of the National League.”
Despite failing to pay players in the squad, Southend secured a third victory in four over the weekend as they beat York City 2-0 in front of 6,000 fans at Roots Hall.
The victory has remarkably elevated them into the play-off places amid unprecedented turbulence off the pitch.
After the game, manager Kevin Maher told Echo News: “I can’t talk highly enough of the players, how they’ve been and how they approached the game.
“It was a difficult game, difficult conditions and difficult circumstances too.
“The important thing was to come out on the right end of the result and 2-0 is perfect.”
Protests took place before the game as Southend fans called on Martin, 70, to leave the club after a dreadfully unpopular stint as owner.
Messages such as “Pay your staff” were also written onto beach balls and thrown onto the pitch.
Selling Roots Hall could well be a way of sourcing the much-needed funds.
And Southend fans will be praying for a solution to their financial turmoil – which has been ongoing for the best part of a decade.