When I heard the news that Ilkeston’s players were boycotting the trip to Workington on Saturday, I wasn’t entirely surprised.
I was in the midst of preparing a surprise birthday party for my wife that night and suddenly had to write a story about Ilkeston FC rather than prepare food for 100-odd people, but that kind of unexpected scenario tends to crop up a lot nowadays!
Clearly, not having been paid since December isn’t going to be the ideal motivation tool no matter how much the line about ‘playing for the love of the game’ is rolled out - this isn’t amateur football and players deserve what they’re entitled to.
Then the prospect of an eight-hour round-trip and most likely another defeat clearly didn’t take some of the players’ fancy either in the current circumstances and although it’s not the kind of thing one would usually condone, it was perhaps inevitable.
The damage left behind hasn’t, as I write this, been decided by the powers that be in terms of the likely fine and possible points deductions that might follow - Ilkeston’s inability to play at the start of the season likely to be a big factor in whatever the Northern Premier League decide to do next.
We know Ilkeston are going down, so squad morale isn’t going to improve all that much irrespective of what punishments may or may not be handed out. It’s just a case of limping to the end of this horrible season now and hoping the summer sees positive changes.
On that note, and having spoken to Nigel Harrop this week, it would appear one of the potential avenues for a takeover has closed and if what I was told about the reasons for that is true, it may not have been the worst thing to happen, but that isn’t meant with any disrespect to the potential buyers themselves.
Another avenue is, I’m told, still open and again, from what I can gather, if that one comes off then it could be a very interesting future ahead, but I really don’t know enough about either the people or the plans to say anymore.
However, whoever it may be that takes over, it would need to happen as soon as possible as the more damage is done under the current regime, the more irreparable it could be for future owners.
What I do know is that Harrop just wants Ilkeston FC sold and he seems to me to want the best overall deal for the club and not himself, which is perhaps not what some fans would believe (and understandably so) but is in his best interests to achieve, in all honesty.
Harrop also maintains that he has a lot he wants to say on certain issues that may explain a few things better than has been possible up to now. When and whether that happens remains to be seen, but it could be interesting.
In the meantime, and without yet knowing what will happen at Spennymoor on Thursday (although I can probably guess) - we await confirmation of Ilkeston’s relegation which could well happen by the middle of next week.