Political Economy of Football
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Cambridge Fans Unite To Save Club

 

30/01/2005

University cities are perhaps not the best sites for football clubs given their transient student populations and the fact that many staff have footballing loyalties formed elsewhere. Oxford United made it into the top flight, but the city has a large working class population associated with its car industry. Cambridge is a more up market city and there is even a non-league team, Cambridge City, competing with Cambrige United. (Oxford have Oxford City, but they are at a lower level of the non-league pyramid). Having got as far as the Premiership play-offs, the team are now rooted at the bottom of League Two and are likely to be relegated to the Conference next season. It is quite possible for league clubs to survive relegation to the Conference, which attracts decent crowds, and bounce back again. However, Cambridge face going out of business. Having been financially stable until a few years ago, they managed to run up debts of 1.5m. They borrowed against a ground redevelopment that never happened and failed to adjust quickly enough when the ITV Digital deal collapsed. The Abbey Stadium was sold off for 1.9m to a property company owned by one of the directors, the money being used to repay debts and keep the club going. Now fans have come up with a scheme to buy the ground back and run it is a not-for-profit community facility that could offer not only sport but healthcare, IT training and help for business start ups. Given that the 2m needed cannot be raised from donations, they are seeking loans for which interest would be paid. The loans would be secured against the Abbey Stadium which is worth far more than the money they need to safeguard the club.


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