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Ron Martin interview: Fossets Farm will happen
The Blues chairman spoke of a tunnel vision-like focus to get the club to a new stadium since becoming involved with the club in 1999.
Even after the global downturn of 2008 and, more recently, during a serious bout of septicemia last autumn, he said he never lost “a line of sight” to the new stadium.
The illness saw him in and out of hospital and away from the office for up to six weeks at a time.
Feeling confident: Ron Martin
Mr Martin got blood poisoning during an open operation for an agonising twisted bowel problem during a crucial time for negotiations over the new plans, which have had a series of false start dates since permission was given in 2008.
He is now confident builders will be on site before the summer.
Asked if it was a certainty the club would move, he said: “Oh absolutely.
“It is not something I will give up on now. It is something I want to deliver and I will do. I want the club to be in a position where it is less reliant on me.”
However, despite Mr Martin’s clear vision, there are sceptics, including a Conservative member of Southend Council’s planning committee who cast serious doubt on the plans last year.
The unnamed member said: “There is not one member of the committee who actually believes it will ever be built.”
But Mr Martin says his heart and soul is in securing a better future for the Blues.
He said: “It can’t be a money driven thing because I wouldn’t do it. Football clubs don’t get sold for lots of money. What is Leeds being sold for – £20million? They put £93million into Brighton and can’t sell it for £10million.
“Why do people do it? For me it’s just a challenge. I want to just make it happen that’s what I am like. I am ambitious for Southend. I can see the potential and I’m excited by it.
“My family say I make money from property and stick it into football and that is about right.
“Fans have always got views on everything. Whether I think we played well as I thought we did on Tuesday, other people think we didn’t play.
“You will never stop people in football clubs having opinions and the proof of the pudding will be when it’s all developed.”
So do the constant questions over the development faze him?
“I didn’t become the chairman of a football club to be in a highprofile position. I am actually quite a shy guy.
“I think all fans are cynical about the project as it goes on for so long, but it is a bit like a swan.
“People don’t see what goes on beneath the water.
“We have been negotiating with a huge number of parties following the crash in 2008 and 2009 to keep this on line.
“I think I have overcome a few obstacles in the last five years.
With the reduction in value we have had to review the project so many times.
“People say it has gone on a long time, but it is only because in 2007 we had consent and the banks were fully funding the project. When the recession hit we had to re-invent the wheel to keep the project on.”
He said people should be pleased the project has weathered the storm.
He said: “In between Everton have failed to move, Liverpool has failed. Other clubs’ ambitions for new stadiums have fallen by the wayside.”
Mr Martin would not put a figure on the total anticipated cost, which could change.
He said: “My intention here is the club ends up with no debt and no debt on the stadium and well placed to advance.”
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