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Inside Southend United mess – fan protests, chairman’s rants, Collymore offer

The Shrimpers have been beset by one drama after another since slipping out of the EFL at the end of last season

Stan Collymore to launch new series on RT

Southend United fans perhaps knew it was going to be tough after relegation from the Football League.

But they did not expect it to be this chaotic – on or off-the-field.

The Shrimpers surrendered their 101-year league stay last season in what was a second successive relegation for the beleaguered Essex club.

Phil Brown, who returned as manager for a second spell towards the end of last season, was sacked after the club’s latest defeat on Saturday.

That 4-0 collapse at home to Chesterfield was a fifth defeat in six and minutes after the whistle Brown was unsurprisingly relieved of his duties.

There was a delay to the announcement, owing to the fact that the game had a lengthy stoppage after home fans entered the pitch to protest against much-maligned owner Ron Martin.

Fans invaded the pitch and held a banner aloft saying ‘Martin Out’. It was the latest flashpoint in an increasingly unsavoury relationship between Martin, owner of the club since 2000, and the fed-up supporters.

It led to ex-Southend player Stan Collymore going public over the weekend with an offer to help act as an intermediary.

Collymore had spent one season at Roots Hall early in his playing career and had helped preserve their second division status before moving onto Nottingham Forest.

Stan Collymore remains a popular figure at Southend after his brief spell there in the early 1990s

Now a prominent pundit, the 50-year-old retains a keen interest in Southend. Quotes attributed to Collymore by the BBC said: “There’s a loser’s mentality at the club, but if I get involved for free or paid, part time or full time, it will be arrested tomorrow morning, I guarantee it.

“I will go and watch games, I will get two exceptional recruitment specialists to get you players in budget, I will get you a manager or managers in front of you that can play attacking, open, front-foot football, that have integrity.

“If I can deliver Southend United what I promise tomorrow, Monday, Friday and then in two or three or six months’ time and the club are in a healthy position, then we’ll sit down and talk about a longer-term involvement.”

Collymore also appealed for a ceasefire and for fan protests to stop.

That plea may well fall on deaf ears, given the disdain supporters have for Martin’s running of the club.

Southend United are hovering just above the National League relegation places

Speaking to the Southend Echo, supporter Barney Errington said: “The people in charge of that protest today (against Chesterfield) will keep going until Ron’s out the club.

“It’s nothing to do with the players and I’d like to put that out there but this is all to do with Ron Martin. He’s out of his depth and I just think he needs to do the right thing and move on now.”

Martin has been involved recently in a number of spats with supporters.

During a zoom call he snapped at one fan, who questioned why he is still in position, saying: “Because I love the f******g club you idiot.”

And there was the incident earlier month when Martin left the directors box to confront fans in the away end during a game at Solihull.

Southend United chairman Ron Martin

He was subsequently led away by the home side’s security team. He admits that the episode was “maybe a mistake” but added: “I thought it might be welcomed because I’m not hiding. If I thought it was going to cause a flashpoint I wouldn’t have walked down there.”

Two more defeats have since followed that strange incident and the protests and voices going against Martin seem to be growing.

Despite Collymore’s apparent involvement in the search for Brown’s replacement, a new man isn’t expected to be in situ before the weekend.

Saturday sees Southend in uncharted territory when they enter the FA Cup qualifying rounds for the first time in 97 years.

A fitting motto during testing times for Southend United fans

They host Isthmian League South Central side Chertsey Town.

The Curfews ply their trade three divisions below United. An away victory would surely represent one of the biggest FA Cup shocks, albeit before the competition’s first round proper.

It is hardly plausible for Southend to be in a worse state of affairs.

Fans will be hoping they are not contemplating that theory come Saturday teatime.

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