SOUTHEND United chairman Ron Martin met with Echosport’s Chris Phillips to discuss the club’s return to League Two.

CP: How will relegation affect the club and just how depressing will it be to be back in League Two?

RM: “My first thought when we entered the relegation zone was that I have come full circle. Having built the club up, to be back in League Two seems to be a retrograde step but in reality there’s been a great deal of progress off the field which has not been affected.

“The stadium plans have been unaffected and they will continue.

“Our business plan is built on taking Southend to a new stadium so we have more income and therefore can grow and all the activity in building up the youth setup is predicated on the growth of the club.

“The biggest thing about being in League Two is a loss of income. No doubt we will have less crowds, charge less ticket prices and commercially there will be less income but equally the wage demands are less in League Two.

“We are also extremely well placed to compete as a football team.

“You cannot guarantee it but you would think that we should be able to make an immediate return and be one of the top sides in League Two.

“I thought we were far too good in terms of individuals this season but fate takes a hand sometimes and we find ourselves relegated.

“We would never have bet on that at the beginning of the season and it is an unbelievable position to find ourselves in.

“But I am now challenged to make sure we can get back and make the club grow.”

CP: Financially we lost £2.4 million when coming out of the Championship. Are you aware at this stage what it will be for coming out of League One?

RM: “It won’t because it’s entirely different.

“We were in the Championship for one year but we had players’ contracts for two or three years.

“We do not have the same commitment going forward this time and have, in many respects, the closest to a clean slate you could have.

“There are players who will not want to play in League Two and we will not stand in their way.

“People think we can stop them from going but in reality if players want to go we cannot stop them.

“We must have happy players if they are to play to the best of their ability.”

CP: If players do leave is there a danger we will struggle to replace them after what has happened this season?

RM: “Being a footballer is a very privileged position.

“They’ll see the construction of the stadium going on during the summer months and as a consequence the blip around the finances and thoughts of dealing with HMRC will soon be washed away.”

CP: But what would you say to the people saying it is a waste of time building a new stadium when you’re playing against Accrington Stanley and Morecambe?

RM: “By the time the stadium is finished we will not be playing against Accrington Stanley and Morecambe.”

CP: Why do you feel we will be playing them next season though. What do you put the relegation down to?

RM: “The biggest issue for me is lack of continuity.

“We haven’t had the same starting 11 week in week out. We need team spirit and you only get that with the same group of players together all the time.

“We’ve used 36 players this season and the club record is 37.

“There is never just one reason and it’s a combination of a whole host of things.

“I have sat down, pondered, worried and thought about what we could have done differently but you can never account for injuries and suspension.”

CP: Do you accept part of the blame with the wages being paid late and the transfer embargoes?

RM: “I think it is a contributing factor. I am not immune to how this affects people.

“But I think there has been a lot of emphasis placed on the wages being on occasions just a few days late.

“Players always knew the money was in the pipeline. I gave my promise they would never be let down and they never were.

“Things are not as bleak as people make out though.

“Bournemouth have not been able to sign players for 18 months and yet that team has obtained promotion. Team spirit carried them through and sometimes adversity can bond people together, just like Portsmouth who have reached the FA Cup final.

“However, in football the buck stops with the chairman and manager.

“I don’t choose the team or purchase the players but if I am responsible, which I am, for the finance of the football club, then regardless that I have put more than £3million in during the last five and half months I haven’t been able to stem the flow of losses.

“If the money was there it would always be paid over but at times there has been a delay but it was always going to be forthcoming.”

CP: What about Steve Tilson’s future? Do you expect him to stay at the club next season?

RM: “Steve, as far as I am aware, has no wish to move on.

“I’m sure he is as bitterly disappointed as I am at the way the season has turned out and we will talk about the future when the dust settles at the end of the season.”

CP: So you do still seem confident that the future is bright for the club?

RM: “You can dramatise it and make it in to a story but that’s a knee jerk reaction.

“We have come a long way off the field in the last four years and people will look back in years to come and forget about this.

“Relegation will not change our ambitions and we are not back to square one.

“The club was millions of pounds in debt last time we were here, had no infrastructure for work off the field and no youth system either.

“But now we’re well placed as a club to be in the Championship let alone League Two. “This will not destroy all that has been done and, if people could see inside my head, they would not worry about the future of the club.”