The Enduring Mystery Of Crawley Town’s Far Eastern Connection
When Crawley Town travelled to Old Trafford for an FA Cup Fifth Round match against Manchester United in February of 2011, those who made the long journey north from West Sussex might have been forgiven for believing that they were living a dream come true. Previous financial issues had pushed the club to the brink of closure, yet in the winter of four and a half years ago the team was disappearing into the distance at the top of the Football Conference with a expensively-assembled team that made a mockery of the very idea of a distinction between “league” & “non-league” football and playing the biggest football club in the land for a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. The thing about dreams, however, is that most people wake up from them in the fullness of time.
Throughout the majority of the first decade of this century, Crawley Town Football Club became synonymous with mismanagement and a seemingly perpetual state of financial disarray. The club had first entered into administration at the end of the 1990s, but it was in the summer of 2006 that the club’s very existence – it was then under the ownership of the now notorious Majeed brothers – was first threatened. Rescued at the last minute, then run first by a group of directors led by Victor Marley and subsequently by a company called Prospect Estate Holdings Ltd, it was the announcement of Bruce Winfield in July 2010 that he and one Susan Carter had become majority shareholders of the club with substantial investment – some of which, it was almost cryptically added, had come from overseas – that really changed the future of the club.
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