Torquay United: National League South club to enter administration as search for new owner begins

Torquay United to enter administration as departing owner expresses 'regret'
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Torquay United is set to enter administration following owner Clarke Osborne's announcement that he is no longer able to financially support the National League South team. Osborne, who also announced his departure from the club as chairman, acquired the club from a fan-led consortium in 2016.

During his tenure, the Gulls have experienced relegation to the sixth tier twice. This is despite a recent bid for promotion to League Two in 2021, which ended in defeat against Hartlepool United in the play-off final. The club also faces a 10-point deduction, resulting in a drop from 11th to 18th in the National League South table, with a narrow four points above relegation to the Southern League.

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In a statement released on its website, Osborne said: “It is with sincere regret that I advise that circumstances beyond my control during the last five weeks have brought me to the position that I am unable to continue financial support for the Club and I have today filed on behalf of the Directors, an intention to appoint an administrator to the Club and Company.

"The prospect of creating a new stadium and commercial facility was the driver for the investment, the excitement to deliver something truly transformative for the Club and Torbay. I would reiterate what I have said many times, that Torquay United is blessed with fantastic, passionate support and I am sorry that we have not been able to reach our goal for the Club and fans, despite significant effort and investment."

Torquay United to enter administrationTorquay United to enter administration
Torquay United to enter administration

According to the BBC Sport, Osborne had kept Torquay afloat - the last set of accounts showed loans of almost £4.3m to the club. It is expected that that figure is likely to be well past £5m with new accounts for the year to June 2023 due soon.

He added: "The financing of football in this country is precarious and can only thrive in the lower divisions where there is either a close collaborative relationship with the local authority, it is a trophy asset or is backed by substantial local individuals and businesses.

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"I believe that it needs a fundamental overhaul of its financing structure, rights distribution in the lower leagues and recognition that many clubs represent a fundamental part of the local community and its visitor attractions. Ambitious Clubs should in my opinion be given special status in their push to bring in investment, develop facilities, bring spend and employment to the local economy."

The decision leaves Torquay searching for a fourth owner in less than a decade. In a separate statement issued by the club, Torquay United reassured their fans that the decision to appoint administrators "doesn't necessarily mean the end for a football club".

It said: "In recent years, clubs such as Southampton and Huddersfield have entered administration Both clubs have come out of the other side of those financial difficulties and have enjoyed time back in the top flight recently. We appreciate there are a lot of questions that supporters will have, and in order to assist the club will have a question and answer article which will be updated on a rolling basis, this will be live as soon as possible.

"If you do have any questions regarding the administration process then please do not hesitate to email [email protected] and we will forward these onto the administrators and the FAQ will be updated."

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