There hasn’t been a lot for supporters of local football clubs to shout about this season. All our major sides are facing relegation battles, with only Blues’ run to the Carling Cup final raising any spirits. However, for one set of fans on the edge of our region, things could have been a lot worse.
Kidderminster Harriers have been in existence since 1886, which makes them older than the Football League of which they were a member for the first five years of this century. Harriers have rarely made the news, but they’ve been in the headlines this week due to the fact that they seemed destined to enter into administration as a result of debts totalling £155,000 – negligible in the rarefied atmosphere of the Premier League, but potentially crippling at lower levels.
The club have already been deducted five points this season after financial irregularities from a previous year came to light and the further ten point penalty that applies in the case of a club entering administration would have taken them from their current position on the edge of the Conference play-off places into a relegation battle. Administration would also inevitably lead to the club’s playing budget being reduced, further weakening their chances of survival on the pitch.
The club has been making frantic efforts to raise the money necessary to keep afloat – they owe £16,000 in tax alone, and the Kidderminster Harriers Independent Supporters Trust (KHIST) launched a last-minute attempt at the weekend to raise this initial sum, via the internet in its many forms. This initiative caught the imagination of the footballing public and, with the help of local and national media, more than £14,000 had been raised by 8pm on Tuesday. Later that evening came the even better news that a group of supporters have also come to an agreement which should enable administration to be avoided and allow the club to continue at least until the end of the season. The underlying problems are still there, but at least the club’s short-term future is safe.
Football comes in for a lot of criticism and much of it is justified. Graham Taylor once described the game at the top level as “rotten to the core” and while that may be true, there are a lot of supporters who retain a basic sense of decency and an instinctive belief in what’s right. Football fans just like all of us were in need, and we helped them. Much as I hate the phrase, sometimes it really is a beautiful game.