An enforced break from work has meant I’ve not been able to keep too much on top of the Ilkeston FC takeover situation, although as you may have seen I did manage to find out a bit more for a piece I wrote last week.
As I write this, it seems it’s a case of ‘so near yet so far’ as based on the chats I’ve had with owner Nigel Harrop, a deal remains very close to completion yet I’m unable to glean too many details about the terms or the buyers - not even off the record.
From what I have been told, it could well be a really positive move for the club and although you could say that any time a football club is taken over by someone with fresh ideas, one has to approach any of this with a degree of trepidation given how some of those said deals often turn out!
I’ve no reason to believe Ilkeston fans will need to feel anything but confident, however, and the key will be giving the new owners the time to explain their plans, implement them and then show they’re in it for the long haul should those plans be successful and carried out in a way the majority of the supporters will take a liking to.
If it all seems a bit vague at this stage, I apologise, but even Harrop has admitted his frustration at not being able to say more.
I don’t have much cause to question what he’s saying is true, after all it would be foolish to tell me either on or off the record that such a deal is so close were that not to be the case.
Once we have names to work with, it becomes that bit more real and I genuinely hope that over the next week or two we’ll be able to get a lot more news out there.
This is a big deal to a lot of people. Ilkeston FC may ‘only’ be a non-league club buried in the footballing hotbed that is the East Midlands, but their recent trials and tribulations have been followed by those far and wide, with national press features highlighting the work done to bring young players through and of course those very same young players making positive impacts higher up the football ladder.
Lives are affected by it, with many people relying on Ilkeston FC for their livelihood, and fans who have spent a lot of their own hard-earned cash on following the team around the country in the last few years are now desperate not to see that loyalty go up in smoke should all takeover bids fail and the club be liquidated.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think that scenario will happen but if it is to be avoided then this apparent takeover really has to happen quickly to give everyone at the New Manor Ground the best footing towards getting the Robins back into the Premier Division next season.
What that will involve remains to be seen, apart from ensuring all debts are paid up, but one can only assume there isn’t much of a playing squad left to work with and that will be among the first priorities.
Whether Shaun Goater will remain in charge might depend on who the new owners are, because they may well have their own ideas of who they want to bring in.
Goater is still learning his trade when it comes to coaching and given the squad he was forced to work with in his time at the NMG so far, it’s hard to fairly judge just how adept he is when it comes to managing at this level.
Given more freedom than he’s had up to now to raid his probably quite impressive contacts book, he may well have some ideas up his sleeve of who he might want to bring in, but I’d hope that experienced players who know what it takes to win at this level will be just as high a priority as picking up some young talent from higher up the leagues.
That will all remain to be seen and is of course all dependent on this apparent takeover actually happening, but here’s hoping that by the time you read this, or by this time next week, we will all be a lot more informed as to what the future holds at the New Manor Ground!