Hillingdon Borough FC are facing a summer of uncertainty on and off the pitch – and perhaps even a battle for survival.
Boro finished rock bottom of the Spartan South Midlands Premier this season and will start the next one at their lowest ever level, unless they get a reprieve.
It is an ignominious fate for a club which, less than a decade ago, was playing Southern League football and reached the FA Vase final and whose predecessor (having gone bust but reformed in 1990) reached the FA Trophy final and twice applied to join the Football League.
For chairman Mick Harris, it is keeping alive that history which keeps him and the board going, but he admits it is becoming more of a struggle to do so with each passing year.
He said: “It’s been a very difficult season, we don’t know if we will be relegated or not yet, but that’s just part of the problem as we don’t know what’s happening with the club itself.
“We’ve heard the ground has been sold. The club used to own it but the previous committee had to sell it and it’s now privately owned.
“Hopefully the new owner will still let us play there as we can’t afford to move to another ground, but we’ve not heard anything yet.
“Folding is a possibility, but we have a picture on the boardroom wall which shows when the club was founded, and that’s the history I look at.
“I can’t walk away.”
A season of turmoil saw Hillingdon finish bottom of their division by 10 points after winning just four league games all season.
It was always going to be difficult to replace the previous campaign’s top scorer, Rob Laney, who moved to Ryman Premier side Wingate & Finchley, where he has just been named Fans’ Player of the Year.
But the controversial departure of manager Sam Hurrell, a former Chelsea academy player, further destabilised the club, leaving Jason O’Connor and then Mick Byron, who finished the season in the hot seat, to pick up the pieces before resigning last week.
Harris added: “Sam did the dirty on us. He said at the start of the season that he couldn’t carry on due to work commitments, and the next thing we knew he was turning up to play against us for Harefield. Jason tried hard but had just got married and left soon after.
“But lots of teams have survived these situations. Cockfosters lost their manager and 22 players earlier in the season, and a few years back we lost a manager and nine players five days before the transfer window shut. Surviving what happens next is the big question.”
Hillingdon are now on the lookout for Byron’s replacement as boss.