Southend United chairman Ron Martin says he is ‘embarrassed’ by the serial killer stand controversy and plans to change it’s name.
The National League outfit sold the naming rights of the West Stand to local estate agents Gilbert and Rose, and the unfortunately juxtaposition led to unwanted media attention with it going viral across social media.
West is known to be one of Britain’s most infamous serial killers after she and her Husband, Fred West, were charged with the murder of at least nine women between 1973 and 1987. Rose is currently serving a life sentence in prison.
Southend United have sold the naming rights for their West Stand to the local estate agents Gilbert & Rose.
I don’t think they thought this one through…
— Iain Macintosh (@iain_games) August 3, 2022
After initially stating they had no plans of changing the unfortunately named stand at Roots Hall, the club has since performed a U-turn after being in every news outlet’s headlines.
Chairman Ron Martin said to talkSPORT on Thursday he has been left ’embarrassed’ by the situation and confirmed what the Shrimpers will change it to.
Speaking on White and Jordan, Martin said: “It’s not the most advisable thing, it is unfortunate.
“I suspect that the Gilbert And Rose are delighted with the press that they’re getting but it’s not good for the club.
“I suspect that the people in our commercial department were not born at the time of that tragedy and so I guess that’s why that’s happened.
“To be fair, it should have been picked up by the senior management, it wasn’t, and it came to my attention the night before last and we’re changing the name of the stand to ‘The West Stand sponsored by Gilbert And Rose’.
“I spoke to Tom Lawrence, the CEO, about it and we’re definitely going to change it.
“We’re probably not going to change the season cards as that’s probably an unnecessary expense unless people really want us to revisit that. They’ve been issued so we don’t really want to reissue 3000 season cards again.
“We’ll certainly change the name of the stand it won’t be as is being construed at the moment.”
“Apologies to everybody.”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) August 4, 2022
He added: “It is unfortunate and really disappointing, but these things happen.
“My apologies go to everybody and we will get it changed.”
Asked if he feels embarrassed, he said: “I do, actually.
“I’m not based at the club day-to-day so operationally I’m not seeing those things come across my radar. If it had done, it would never have happened.
“That’s not a criticism of Tom Lawrence, he’s a great guy and doing a really good job but nevertheless it should have been picked up and it wasn’t.
“I am embarrassed and I think it’s really disappointing.”
talkSPORT pundit Simon Jordan then offered his view on the story, and said it’s ‘inconceivable’ a decision as big as stadium naming rights didn’t cross Martin’s desk in his role as chairman.
“You have to take people at face value because he’s fronted up, but I think there’s little alternative but to front up because Ron isn’t the most popular person at Southend,” said Simon Jordan.
“This doesn’t help the backdrop of how people perceive him.
“It is almost inconceivable, that if you own a football club, that a significant part of that football club like the naming rights of a particular stand wouldn’t touch your desk, or somebody else of significance in your business would have the awareness to recognise a possible conflict.
“Of course it’s an honest and innocent mistake and it does open the club up for ridicule, but the point is that it’s unnecessary. It’s sloppy and it’s unprofessional.
“If I was still owning a football club I’m pretty sure that I would know what my stands were being called, because it’s a piece of real estate that I own, it’s a brand endorsement and it’s a bleeding big thing naming a stand.
“You can go to the top and name a stand after Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool or Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and I’m pretty sure the people at the top of those football clubs were involved in the decision and understood it.
“Ron has got no option but to come out and say that it’s ridiculous and that he’s embarrassed and the lack of awareness is completely insensitive.
“If you’re the chief executive of this business, you’d have some explaining to do as to why you’ve named a stand after someone who is synonymous with one of the worst murderers in this country.
“I don’t think that Ron is particularly clever for saying that they’ll keep it on the cards that they’ve printed because there’s an unnecessary expense. I think you’re missing the point, Ron.
“People are looking at this and saying: ‘What the hell’s wrong with you?’”
Fans reacted as the Southend chairman says he is ‘embarrassed’ by the stand controversy…
@jkmcnamara: It was a genuine mistake and they have apologised and fair play to the Chairman for fronting it up
@FlashDarbs: To be fair, it’s nice to be in the news for a story involving the actual payment of money for a change.
@garyessex111: The things that people dig up