It has not been all doom and gloom for Stockport County this week. They may have plummeted to the bottom of the Football League on Tuesday night, but there was slight relief as the Football League lifted restrictions on the club’s transfer entitlements.
Prior to Saturday’s 4-3 home defeat to Lincoln City the supporters were not very optimistic. On the pitch they blame their defence, their midfield and their lack of a goalscorer- but it is off the field where you find the routes of County’s problems.
A lot of fingers point towards Brian Kennedy- the owner of Sale Sharks. Kennedy purchased County from Brendan Elwood, who has this week spoke of his regret at his selection of buyer. The sale of the club coincided with the Shark’s move in to Edgeley Park.
In his tenure Kennedy did put £4m into the club before selling to the Supporters Trust for £1 in 2005. The worst part for County fans is that they know feel that they come second to Sale Sharks at Edgeley park despite what history may depict.
It is important we don’t forget that in this period, since 2003, Stockport have had success. In 2008 County beat local rivals Rochdale at Wembley to achieve promotion to League One under the excellent guidance of Jim Gannon. It was after promotion that the cracks appeared.
They had spent above their means and the training ground was put up for sale. Soon enough Gannon and his staff were made redundant. The club, following one decent season in League One were relegated the next. It was suggested by some fans that Gannon would have taken over again- before Paul Simpson’s appointment- were it not for a family bereavement in the summer of 2010.
Gannon has now taken charge at Port Vale, while his former assistant at County, Peter Ward, is in caretaker charge at Edgeley Park. The supporters are not convinced though, some suggested he was not committed to the cause and was waiting for Gannon to come calling again. One thing is important- Stockport need to appoint the right man to see them out of this mess, that could mean Peter Ward committing to the club.
One fan on Saturday was particularly angry with the lack of information and action from the board saying the club ‘was like the MI5’ and adding ‘if we (Stockport) go down this season- in my opinion- there is no way back.’
With the news that they will be allowed to be more active in the transfer market, County have been given a flash of light at what has been a long, dark tunnel. Defender Aaron Brown has been brought in with director Tony Gibbons citing that more signings could follow. The quotes from Gibbons this week, as well as caretaker Ward, pinpoint more positive vibes coming from the club.
I witnessed a lot of very passionate, loyal but disgruntled fans on my two visits to Edgeley Park this season- Saturday’s defeat to Lincoln and a 5-0 home defeat to Hereford in October, so their frustrations are understandable. Maybe now Peter Ward can be given the chance to strengthen the defence and keep County in the Football League. He thinks eight wins should do it.