It’s hard to see now that there is any hope whatsoever of Ilkeston FC surviving.
As most other clubs return to pre-season training this week, the Robins have no team, no manager, no league to play in and no pre-season planned, let alone the fact they also have no money and lots of creditors to pay.
That all amounts to there being virtually zero chance of survival, the silence from owner Nigel Harrop in the last couple of weeks appearing to confirm that none of the apparent potential buyers were prepared to gamble not only due to the level of debt to pay off but also the level of football Ilkeston FC would probably have to play at.
If I’m proved wrong then it could be a very interesting few weeks indeed, but based on the evidence as I write, I hold out little hope.
With a notice for compulsory strike-off in place, should the club’s future not be secured by August 6 then they’ll be liquidated then anyway, but of course by that point it will be far too late to enter any leagues and so on. If they’re going to be saved, it has to really happen in the next week, and there appears little sign of that happening.
All of this will mean that attention can turn to the formation of a new club in Ilkeston, which it seems strange to say again given the similar circumstances faced seven years ago when Ilkeston Town went pop.
This time though it’s the fans who are behind a new club and from chatting to IFCSG chairman Duncan Payne and seeing the progress being made already, it is something I hope the town will get behind and whatever level the new club may start at, here’s hoping it is supported strongly all the way back up the leagues if that’s to be its destiny.
Payne doesn’t expect the new club to be ready to have a team play in 2017/18 and that could well be for the best. When Eastwood CFC formed from the ashes of Eastwood Town, they were playing competitively barely weeks after forming and were the whipping boys in the Central Midlands League for a while until things had stabilised and they were able to become more established on and off the pitch.
With Ilkeston United CFC seemingly having a year to get things moving, by this time in 2018 they should be more than ready to compete providing things have gone according to plan.
As Payne also alluded to, a lot hangs on whether Erewash Borough Council will see the new fan-run club as being the best option when it comes to playing at the New Manor Ground. In my eyes, a well-supported club needs to be playing there once again and making full use of what are great facilities now and that could improve further over time.
Other possibilities may emerge for the council to consider, but for now I’d hope that Ilkeston United is allowed to fulfil the potential that is clearly there for a club in a town this size, and succeed where Ilkeston FC ultimately failed spectacularly.
You can be certain that football in Ilkeston is far from finished.