LOYAL Blues fans could apply for a slice of £150 million in funding to help save Southend United “from extinction”, it has been revealed.

Anna Firth, Conservative MP for Southend West, has been highlighting the plight of the club with central Government for months, and today met with Sports Minister Stuart Andrew to discuss the “rapidly deteriorating situation”.

As well as highlighting the club’s woes, Ms Firth discussed the possibility of Southend applying for a “community ownership grant” from the Government to help secure the future of the club.

The community ownership fund, a £150 million pot for community groups, has been used across the country on projects including bringing former theatres and empty leisure centres under community ownership.

Following the meeting, Ms Firth said: “I am thrilled to have been able to secure this meeting on the very first day of the new Parliamentary term and would like to thank Andrew and his team for their cooperation in organising it.

“This meeting between the Shrimpers Trust and the minister was productive and wide-ranging. Discussions included the possibility of applying for a community ownership grant from the Department of Housing Levelling-Up and Communities, as well as a very frank sharing of information regarding the club’s problems by the Shrimpers Trust.

“I fully appreciate the strength of feeling surrounding the club, especially now that the season has started and as we approach another huge week for the Southend United both off and on the pitch.”

The Blues are next back in the High Court on October 4, and have until then to clear a £250,000 HMRC debt.

In the last court appearance, on August 23, a judge told chairman Ron Martin that “if this was not a football club with the attachment of its fans” the club would have been wound up.

Numerous takeover bids have been publicised in recent months. However during that court hearing it was revealed that an Australian, Justin Rees, was leading a consortium that was in regular conversations with Mr Martin.

Paul Fitzgerald, of the Shrimpers Trust, also attended yesterday’s meeting.

He said: “We discussed what steps Government is taking to ensure only suitable owners and directors run football clubs.

“Our club is on the brink of extinction and we are continuing to explore every possible solution to save our football club.”