It’s been reported in the local media that Crawley Town are set to be purchased in the week by a group of Turkish investors. The unnamed group would be looking to takeover the Club and produce a new set of funding on the condition that the current board depart. This would mean the end of the reign of current Chief Executive Michael Dunsford.
Crawley grabbed the headlines back in 2011 when they were drawn away at Manchester United in the 5th Round of the F.A. Cup, they lost that 1-0 that Evening but that wasn’t the end of their rise as a club as then subsequent promotions took them out of the Conference (as Champions) and then League Two (3rd place) saw then spend three seasons in League One.
The rise was helped in no small part due to the funding of Bruce Winfield, his money was the catalyst for a spending spree which enabled them to be a Football League club for the first time in their history back in 2011. Sadly Bruce died during the 2011 just before the end of their Conference winning season.
That was the beginning of the end in terms of the Crawley bubble, it’s almost as if the Club grew too quickly and then funding was scaled back as the project started to become unsustainable. This wasn’t helped by the fact that Crawley were regularly getting the lowest average attendances in League One.
With the cloth being cut accordingly it was only a a matter of time before the club started to slip back down the Football League and with the finances being scaled back to a state of managed decline it was almost inevitable that Crawley would be relegated to League Two and with Dean Saunders at the helm last season that is exactly what happened.
With relegation that means attendances that have fallen even further and that means the budget for current Manager Mark Yates hasn’t been all that sizeable. But again you could argue that Crawley as a Town does need to make better use of it’s League status as there plenty of clubs in Non League who would give their right arm for League status.
Since the passing of Bruce Winfield the funding of the club has been shrouded in secrecy, with the only information coming to light was that it was a Thailand based benefactor. It was finally revealed that this man was Paul Hayward, Paul’s original plan was to get Crawley into The Championship but it seems as the cost of the potential project was far too big for even Paul’s pockets as the aspirations became more modest.
Crawley currently find themselves 15th in League Two, they should be safe this season due to the quality of such teams such as Dagenham & Redbridge, Yeovil and York but without a new lease of life it would only be a matter of time before The Reds lose their Football League status.
That is where the potential new Turkish owners step in, they are reported to have links with European Clubs (although these haven’t been revealed) and are looking to use Crawley as a vehicle to get into the Premier League. Quite the target I’m sure you will agree.
I think the change of ownership has come at just the right time for Crawley as crowds and playing standards dwindle, but they obviously go hand in hand. If the Football is below par then people will stay at home but people won’t know what they’ve got until it’s gone and in this case it’s playing in the Football League.
The current and soon to be departing board really missed a trick to mobilise support in the town, with a population of 110,000 thousand there is massive potential for this club and although they are in a catchment area of London and South Coast clubs to only be getting roughly 2% of that population through the gates ever other week is a bad return.
Will the Turkish owners use the club to put their own players in the shop window, it wouldn’t necessarily suprise but it seems like they are “Real Football Men” and not a Venky’s style operation, they’ve undertaken the fit and proper persons test so it looks like bar a late collapse they will be signing on the dotted line this week.
Crawley’s main objective this season is just staying up but with new investments and new ideas who knows what might happen in the next 5 years or so. A new interesting era awaits at Crawley.