Friday, August 13, 2010

Earlier this week Dunfermline Athletic winger Willie Gibson rejected a move to Crawley Town of the Blue Square Premier, despite the Pars accepting a £150,000 bid from the Conference club.

Now there were probably a few surprising factors to this story for many. Firstly there was the incredulous fact that Dunfermline had any players who were actually worth that sort of money in the first place. He wasn't one of the Pars that got turned over 4-1 at Bayview in last month's friendly though.

Some would wonder how a Conference club was prepared to pay that sort of money and then others would have wondered who the hell Crawley Town were in the first place.

For those that don't know though, Crawley Town are the big spending and heavily backed second favourites to win this season's Conference. Their odds have been slashed to 5/1 at many bookies after their summer spending spree.

Their current situation is hugely different to that of even just a few months ago.

Last season manager Steve Evans had to let a number of players go but this campaign he has been given the funds to build a team capable of taking the 104 year old Club into the Football League.

The Club have been plagued with financial problems for a few years now. Just four years ago they had reported debts of £1.8 million. These debts were apparently cleared but in February this year they faced a winding up order for further debts, including money owed to HMRC in a familiar footballing tale these days.

For the Club to go from this to title challengers in a few short months is remarkable and a lot of the thanks for this lies at the door of co-owner Bruce Winfield. Winfield announced in July that all of the clubs debts had been cleared and that a number people had been investing money in the club and giving them funds to spend to improve the squad. Considerable share capital has also been raised.

The Club agreed a lease with Crawley Borough Council earlier this year for their Broadfield Stadium ground which gave them a more control over day to day matters and has allowed them to progress the Club at the same time.

Their close season transfers have included a number of players with Football League experience, including the well known Sergio Torres who was signed from Peterborough for a fee thought to be around £100,000.

We've all seen before though how Clubs spending money to achieve success can soon go pear shaped. I'm not sure how I feel about Crawley at the moment. On the one hand, I hate that money can buy promotions but on the other we have to be realistic these days and East Fife wouldn't have got their own Championship trophy in 2008 if it hadn't have been for the money behind them.

Crawley's first big test will come in their season opener against another fancied side, newly relegated, Grimsby Town. The Club have said to fans not to expect success overnight, but with the money being spent and the buzz generated, it'll be hard for Crawley fans not to get too carried away.

If they are to gain promotion, let's just hope it's behind AFC Wimbledon as Champions.

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