Shrimps woes are “heartbreaking” for Morecambe FC fan

The Globe Arena.
The Globe Arena.
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A longtime Morecambe FC supporter has spoken of his heartbreak at the crisis enveloping the cash-strapped club.

Paul Hodgson, who has been watching the Shrimps for 26 years, said the last two weeks had been his worst ever as a supporter.

Mr Hodgson, who watched his first Morecambe match as a boy in 1991 and has been a regular at matches ever since, spoke as Shrimps staff and players had still not been paid their January wages, due last Friday.

This comes as a row over Morecambe FC’s ownership rumbles on.

Mr Hodgson, 38, also called for fans to rally behind the team by travelling to the away game at Doncaster Rovers on Saturday to give manager Jim Bentley and the side the welcome they deserve.

“It’s heartbreaking to see what’s going on,” he said.

“No matter what job you’re in, you should be paid. I don’t know how the players are taking it. I would be angry if it was me.”

Mr Hodgson also said he was “worried” about Joseph Cala, the Italian businessman who has been at the Globe Arena this week, describing himself as the “stand-by owner”.

Mr Cala struck a a deal to buy G50 Holdings Limited, the company with the controlling stake in the club but will not be official owner unless he passes English Football League checks.

He has been outspoken over the past week with his views about the club and Mr Hodgson said some of Mr Cala’s comments were causing division.

Mr Hodgson said: “My worry is Mr Cala.

“We are a family club. We just want a team to watch, at any level, for the town.

“I’ve read what he’s said about his future plans. Whatever his plans are, they are just not ‘Morecambe’.

“He’s asked for the board to resign. He shouldn’t be making statements like that. He’s dividing people straightaway and he’s not even confirmed as the owner. If we’re divided we’re not going to get anywhere.

“But he might be the only option.”

Mr Hodgson praised manager Jim Bentley who he said has been “a credit” during the crisis.

“We’re going to wait for the coach to arrive on Saturday (at Doncaster) and we’re going to give him a welcome that’s fitting,” he said.

“It would be great if we have around 150 waiting, to give him and the lads a boost.

“It will be a hard game against the league leaders but we’re not bothered. We want to see this season out so we still have a football team to watch.”

Meanwhile ex-pro footballer Simon Barker, from the Professional Footballers Association (PFA), said on Thursday that the players’ union was in talks with the English Football League (EFL) and the club to try to resolve the wages situation.

Shrimps staff and players were supposed to be paid last Friday but by Thursday morning, only casual workers and those with urgent bills had received any money from club funds.

Mr Barker, former QPR and Blackburn Rovers player and now PFA assistant chief executive, said: “We have been contacted by players in respect of the fact that they have not been paid for last month.

“We are in discussions with the EFL and the club and we will see what we can do to help.

“The EFL is in touch with the club trying to sort out the ownership issues.

“It’s tough for the players and the management and all the employees at the club.

“They give their labour and they expect to get paid.

“We all have mortgages and utility bills and things we pay for our families.”

The PFA also stepped in last October when players were first paid late by the club.

“We have assisted the club previously through a cashflow problem and we will continue to talk to the EFL and the club to see what assistance we can give to members,” said Mr Barker.

He also said the PFA was talking to Barry Roche, the Morecambe goalkeeper and team PFA representative.

“The PFA delegate (Mr Roche), we are in contact with him and he will pass information on to the players,” said Mr Barker.

“Hopefully the club can come through this difficult time.”

Meanwhile there is still no clear information on who actually owns Morecambe FC.

Joseph Cala said on Tuesday that the wage crisis would be resolved as soon as the EFL gave him clearance to own the club and the board resigns.

On Wednesday the EFL said they would not comment at this stage.

We contacted Morecambe FC for an update on Thursday morning and were told the situation remained the same.

Rod Taylor, longstanding Morecambe FC director who has been at the club this week trying to boost morale, said on Wednesday: “The staff have been brilliant through all of this and that’s what the Morecambe family is all about.”

Mr Taylor also thanked those who texted with messages of support over the past week saying “it really gees you up”.

Manager Jim Bentley and the players trained on Thursday morning at Wigan FC youth training ground ahead of their League Two match at Doncaster Rovers on Saturday.

They were due to train at Lancaster and Morecambe College on Friday.

The team has been unable to train on the Globe Arena artificial pitches which were locked by administrators after the company operating them, PMG Leisure, went into administration.

The team’s other regular training pitch, Turner’s Field next to Morecambe Community High School, has not been useable because it is waterlogged.

Morecambe’s next home game is on Saturday, February 11 against Cambridge United.