THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

18 November ~ I know how a Manchester City fan feels. Well, to some extent. While they're buying some of the best players in the world – and Roque Santa Cruz – in their quest for glory at the top of English football, my team, Crawley Town, have been buying the cream of the crop of non-League talent, as well as a couple from higher up the divisions, in an attempt to reach the Football League.

Confidence is high around Broadfield Stadium with "Project Promotion", as it's been named, fully underway. In a recent 4-1 away win against Mansfield the team's strong performance showed the type of professionalism that has sometimes been lacking. For Crawley fans, this is a completely new experience. We're more used to starting the season on minus points and concentrating on avoiding relegation than looking down on the rest of the league. The main reason behind this switch is, of course, money. Crawley are spending like there's no tomorrow which, given that we were about an hour away from liquidation four years ago, is quite a dangerous tactic.

But it seems to be paying off. While the ticket prices are still fairly high, the ground has been around half full for most of the season (with a bit of crowd trouble thrown in after some Newport County fans entered the home end in their 3-2 win), and Crawley have come a long way.

Manager Steve Evans has courted controversy in the past, with prosecutions over unpaid tax and the like, and he seems to be an unpopular figure everywhere but Crawley following his time at Boston United. His premature fist-pumping at half-time when we were 1-0 up at promotion rivals AFC Wimbledon certainly didn't show his best side. This was followed by Wimbledon's inevitable comeback and the bitter cry of "We are top of the league!" from the home fans, repeating the refrain Crawley supporters had been singing only minutes before.

But with the new regime and almost completely new first team, Crawley are an exciting prospect. While you could brand their football as "no nonsense", they have also added some flair to the side, in the shape of Sergio Torres. The Argentine midfielder signed from Peterborough and has put in impressive displays since joining, mixing style with a good positional sense. It's been a big transition for the team. We've gone from being the penniless pretenders to the top of the money tree in a little over two years. Promotion at the end of the season would cap the transformation. Joe Doyle

Comments (10)
Comment by Lincoln 2010-11-18 13:34:08

We tried to sign Torres but we couldn't afford him. Even at this level we are thwarted by the short term rich. Crawley Town serve as a useful warning that it's not only the Premiership that can be ruined by money. For the fan's sake I hope it doesn't go the way of Rushden and Diamonds or more relevantly, Boston United.

Comment by Purves Grundy 2010-11-18 14:01:02

"We're more used to starting the season on minus points and concentrating on avoiding relegation than looking down on the rest of the league."



*most of* the rest of the league, if you please.

Comment by eighteen85 2010-11-18 16:52:20

Nice to see that you make no reference at all to where this money might be coming from, and what will happen when, inevitably, it stops. By the way, if gates of around 1,500 are your ground being "half full" I'd suggest that you've been using your Stephen Evans calculator.

Comment by MoeTheBarman 2010-11-18 17:38:43

Once the money stops, as it surely will, Crawley are going to crash and burn spectacularly.

Comment by Coral 2010-11-18 18:06:54

I genuinely have no idea where the money comes from, can someone elaborate?

Comment by madmickyf 2010-11-19 01:24:23

"But with the new regime and almost completely new first team, Crawley are an exciting prospect". Not on average crowds of 1,500 for home games!

Evans involvment with this lends a horrible sense of deja vu to the whole situation, how long before Crawley are in exactly the same situation as Boston? I hope your chairman has very deep pockets as he'll need to keep putting money in each month just to cover the wages of all those expensive signings.

Comment by Lincoln 2010-11-19 09:40:18

Might not be on big wages, might just be on enormous bonuses because then the tax is less. Another club fell foul of doing that and were fined £100k and 6 point fine, just can't remember who, or who the manager was, Seve Jevons something for Bostock?

Comment by eighteen85 2010-11-19 11:53:09

Lincoln - without getting involved in a discussion about the tax and PAYE system, if anything, the tax would be greater on a bonus. But that's assuming of course that you're telling the taxman about them.

Of course, neither you nor I would suggest for a moment that, just because A Certain Individual has got previous for something similar, he's up to his old tricks again, oh dear me no.

Comment by Lincoln 2010-11-19 16:16:04

Agreed on that and I was perhaps wrong to suggest it was bonuses, but it was certainly of the fiddling ilk where wages were covered by other means.

Like you say though would be harsh to suggest it was happening all over again. Like Redknapp at Portsmouth, Saints, Bournmouth and West Ham all going bust only more than coincidental.

Comment by eighteen85 2010-11-19 17:35:17

Lincoln - thinking about it, it may have been travelling expenses which can be paid tax-free where they're legitimate.

I hope you're not suggesting 'onest 'arry's had anything to do with almost all of his previous clubs' financial problems - he's the saviour of English football dontcha' know ....

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