Morecambe fans give manager Jim Bentley £1000 to pay his FA Fine
Back in September when the side was top of the league, a Brazilian businessman brought the team. Diego Lemos, the former FIFA football agent, became the majority shareholder and was granted consent by the EFL to take over. Chairman at the time Peter McGuigan said: “Having been chairman for 16 years, I feel like the time is right for a new owner to take the club forward and build on a strong platform exists today. These developments will secure the long-term financial viability of the club.”
Fast forward to January 2017 and the club is currently under serious financial pressure. To make matters worse, Morecambe are also operating under a transfer embargo imposed by the FA because the PFA have had to pay the players wages. Mr Lemos has not been seen in the country since November last year casting a real cloud over the future of the Shrimps.
One positive ray of sunshine however visibly moved manager Jim Bentley (who has been the manager of the Shrimps for six years). After being sent to the stands during a game on the 17th of December against Cheltenham, he was fined £1000 by the FA for improper conduct. At the subsequent game in which Bentley was absent from the dugout, the fans rallied together and raised the money needed to pay for Bentley's fine. During an interview, Bentley was presented with the money and was visibly moved.
This shows a real togetherness in the face of adversity. Especially since two directors of Morecambe resigned last month following a board meeting. The club issues a statement saying that they are “united in their resolve to find solutions to the many problems facing Morecambe Football Club as a result of Mr Lemos' absence and failure to deliver promised funding.” This all comes down to the FA's fit and proper persons act introduced by the FA in 2004.
Were the checks made on Mr Lemos before he became the majority shareholder truly thorough? We've seen this happen a lot to teams over the years, most notably at Leeds United where Massimo Cellino has had numerous funding problems. More needs to be done in order to stop businessmen taking advantage over football clubs, particularly clubs like Morecambe who are at the centre of their community.
Hopefully, Morecambe will come through this bad spell and find an owner who is dedicated to securing the future of the football club financially as well as a football league outfit. With the fans willing to pay the fine Bentley received could it be a good idea for them to follow the likes of AFC Wimbledon, Portsmouth and Wrexham and become a fan owned football league club? This could be a suitable path for Morecambe to follow.