A rollercoaster week for Farsley Celtic has shown just what can be achieved when fans pull together. The story began last Wednesday when Celtic narrowly avoided a winding-up order by HM Revenue and Customs over a £200,000 tax bill – this would have effectively been the end for the club.
However, the club entered administration before this which prevented the winding-up order and at least gave them a fighting chance of survival. Unfortunately it also prompted the Football Conference to ban them from participating in next season’s Blue Square North – a hammer blow to the club.
Celtic’s supporters refused to take the Football Conference’s decision lying down though and swiftly launched the 101 Appeal. Over the course of the weekend more than £2,500 was raised which will be used to appeal the decision to remove the club from the Blue Square North.
This is no mean feat and a massive boost to a club in administration who may have otherwise struggled to appeal the decision on what division Celtic will play in next season. And it is this decision that could determine the club’s future.
While the issue of clubs going into administration and the appropriate punishment is one that can split fans there is no doubt that the very least everyone expects is consistency – something which seems to be lacking at present.
The FA have the right to overrule any Conference decision should Farsley Celtic appeal. A precedent for this was set last month when Northwich Victoria successfully overturned the Conference’s decision to kick Victoria out of the league.
Ian Holmes of Farsley Celtic Supporters’ Club said: “We’ve received messages of support from many other clubs – including Northwich Victoria – and have actually engaged the same solicitor that they used for their successful appeal.”
Celtic spokesman Phillip Morris, who launched the 101 Appeal on behalf of the fans, also argued that the odds were unfairly stacked against non-league clubs as a relegated Football League team entering administration would not be prevented from playing in the Blue Square Premier.
Jon Keen, deputy chair of the FSF said: “Once again supporters do everything possible to rescue their club but face additional hurdles placed in their way by the game’s administrators. The fact that the FA overturned the Conference’s attempts to kick out Northwich Victoria only last month ought to have set a precedent for the Conference.
“Like supporters everywhere Celtic fans just want consistency and will do whatever is humanly possible to save the club they love from financial ruin.
“Support from the Conference is the very least they deserve.”
If you want to donate to Farsley Celtic’s 101 Appeal click here.
Update – The Football Conference have now confirmed that Farsley Celtic will be playing in the Blue Square North next season. While the club still has many financial hurdles to overcome, and will start the season on minus 10 points as punishment for going into administration, it is a decision that will be welcolmed by the club’s support.