Selkirk FC withdraw from Lowland League

The entrance to Yarrow Park (picture by Grant Kinghorn).
The entrance to Yarrow Park (picture by Grant Kinghorn).

Stricken Selkirk FC have dropped out of the Lowland League.

Well-publicised difficulties with debts and the inability to raise a team have finally cost the Borders club its place in the league – in which it finished fifth last season.

Selkirk FC (picture by Grant Kinghorn)

Selkirk FC (picture by Grant Kinghorn)

The club had been fined a total of £500 – half of which was suspended – for failing to fulfil two league fixtures so far this term.

The Souters had indicated they would have difficulty paying a fine because finances were very low.

However, the end finally came after the Lowland League asked for a further bond of £750.

Selkirk chairman Jay-Dee Sharkey resigned last week after five weeks in the post, while club secretary Sheree Davison, who also wished to stand down, said she had been told by a Scottish Football Association representative that she had to stay on for the time being as a point of contact.

The club issued a statement on Tuesday, in which it said: “It’s with regret Selkirk FC announce that, after having tried everything to keep the club going over an extremely difficult period, they have been unable to do so and are withdrawing from the Lowland League.

“The club would like to thank the people of Selkirk, all supporters, sponsors, managers, management team, office bearers and committee members who, over the time the club has been in the Lowland League, have worked so hard.

“The club would also like to express its thanks to those from Selkirk Victoria and also Selkirk Juniors, who have helped them over this difficult period. It’s been very much appreciated.”

The clubrooms were closed during week, while Ms Davison was earlier today (Wednesday) engaged in shutting down the electrical and gas services, among other duties.

She said at present, she had been left to deal with everything.

While it seemed likely that Selkirk FC, as a business concern, would have to be formally wound up in its present form, Ms Davison said she did not know would happen, adding: “Somebody is going to have to help me in this direction.”

The Lowland League released a statement yesterday in which it said more information may be available after another meeting early next week .

It said: “The board of the GeoSonic Lowland League are disappointed to announce that Selkirk Football Club have resigned their membership in the league, owing to insurmountable difficulties.

“It is very disappointing to lose one of our member clubs, especially so early in the league season.

“But, given the extent of Selkirk’s issues, we understand their decision, and wish them well as they seek to ensure the town has a football team in years to come.

“The board will meet on Monday evening – September 3 – to discuss the implications of this announcement and a further statement will be issued following the meeting.”

The board added: “We are unable to make any further statement regarding this announcement until issues such as promotion/relegation and outstanding results have been discussed at Monday’s meeting.”

Selkirk’s amateur squad, Selkirk Victoria, which plays in the C League of the Borders Amateur Football Association, hoped football in the town could be salvaged in some form and said it was in talks with the neighbouring rugby and cricket clubs over the possible use of their facilities.

Along with Selkirk’s junior side, the Vics regard themselves as separate from the now former Lowland League club, although all three are affiliated, according to the main club’s constitution.

Selkirk Victoria also posted a Facebook statement on Tuesday, which said: “We are saddened at the situation that has developed at Selkirk FC, which has ultimately resulted in the dispansion of Selkirk’s senior football side.

“As a result of their ongoing financial issues, the clubrooms have been closed. The financial problems have been well publicised over the past few weeks but there’s no real merit in spending time reflecting on what has happened previously.

“It should never have come to this, but we must look forward.

“In the future, Selkirk Vics and Selkirk Juniors hope that, together, we can re-open the clubrooms and take the club forward.

“We are determined to pull together and re-establish the football club to a standard Selkirk deserves.

“In the meantime, we will continue to train and play our home games at Yarrow Park. We are in discussions with Selkirk Cricket Club and Selkirk Rugby Club, with the view to using their changing facilities when available. We are extremely grateful for their support.

“The fantastic Junior set-up has over 100 youngsters registered at various age groups and the Vics are a club close to the hearts of many in the town. Both have a number of dedicated committee members who are determined to keep football in the town alive.

“We hope the town will get behind us, in what is sure to be a difficult time off the park.

“We will try our best to keep you updated on the situation. Until then, we will carry on playing the game we all love.”

The crisis at Yarrow Park escalated after rumours last season that players may be considering leaving because they had not been paid.

Former manager John Coughlin – who was both preceded and succeeded by Ian Fergus – also said he had not been paid when he left the club at the beginning of April, after just six weeks in charge.

Many of the playing personnel left the club at the end of last season, before it emerged they had not been paid since December 2017 and were possibly owed around £12,000.

Ian Fergus also left his managerial post, while his successor, Terry Ferguson, quit along with assistant Scott Patterson after just one game in charge this season – a 10-0 whipping by East Kilbride – saying the dire financial position made it impossible for him to construct a team.

Former Hibernian player and Gala Fairydean manager Gordon Rae was brought in as interim manager, as the club struggled to field a team from one game to the next. But the club’s worsening reputation over the financial uncertainty, along with its inability to guarantee twice-weekly training sessions or game time on a Saturday, made it very difficult to attract players. In addition, many whom Rae was in contact with were already committed to other clubs.

Earlier, chairman Ross Anderson had stood down at the club’s annual general meeting in July, to be replaced by Jay-Dee Sharkey, who tried to appeal to the wider community and the people of Selkirk to help ensure their town’s football team could survive.

But, at an open meeting in August, it was revealed the club owed around £37,500 in outstanding bills – along with over £116,000 personally to an individual commitee member. Mr Sharkey said on the night he feared the club could not continute to particiapte in the Lowland League, as it could not put together a team and it seemed nobody local wanted to play for Selkirk.

Others at the meeting agreed legal action should be pursued in relation to some of the financial matters.