Sports Gazette

The sports magazine brought to you by the next generation of sport writers

Scunthorpe United on the brink as chairman seeks a way out

It’s been quite the year for Scunthorpe United fans. 2023 began on a positive note as it was announced that much maligned former owner, Peter Swann was parting ways with the club. David Hilton, who had overseen success with Ilkeston Town, was to become the new owner of Scunthorpe.

The Sports Gazette sat down with fan and former host of matchday entertainment at Scunthorpe United, Jim Coulson who recalled the sense of optimism when David first took control:

“It felt like we had our club back and that this was the turning point.”

Embed from Getty Images

Fast forward to Friday 29th September and the club is facing the possibility of administration. David Hilton announced via a club statement yesterday that he intends to “withdraw his funding from the club moving forward” and that he is “actively seeking a way out.”

This announcement follows a tumultuous September for the Scunthorpe chairman, who was on the receiving end of an Athletic article (found here) on the 11th that claimed they had found a man they “strongly believe to be Hilton [that] was sentenced to two years in prison for 15 counts of fraud by false representation under the name of David Anderson.”

On Thursday, Scunthorpe also confirmed on their website that the chairman was “under investigation by the FA for matters that were reported to them by the Athletic.” Amid the recent mounting criticism, the club sensationally issued banning orders to prominent fans who had spoken out against the club.


Screenshot of Banning Order received by the Iron Bru podcast on Monday
The banning order received by the ‘Iron Bru’ podcast on Monday

Many Scunthorpe fans including Jim fear their club could share a similar fate to Bury and Macclesfield Town, who in 2020 were placed in administration and liquidation respectively.

“At the moment it is difficult to see how this ends in any way other than the club going bust” – Jim tells the Sports Gazette.

Not only is the long-term future of Scunthorpe United at stake, but the club will also no longer play at their home stadium from the 7th of October. Hilton pledged to withdraw additional funding, but also dictated that the club was to no longer play at home stadium: Glanford Park after their fixture against Brackley Town.

They are to play at Gainsborough Trinity, whose stadium is nearly 20 miles away.

Embed from Getty Images

“For a football club not to have a home is soul destroying and for the town it will be a major loss.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, Gainsborough Trinity released a statement (found here) in response to Scunthorpe’s United annoucement to move stadiums saying, “The content and timing of this statement was unknown to Gainsborough Trinity at the time of publication” and that consultation from the SAG (Safety Advisory Group) was required in order for this move to happen at all.

The club, founded in 1899, was plunged into further crisis this afternoon with BBC Humberside reporting that “players and staff at @SUFCOfficial haven’t been paid today.”

Despite these conditions, the former League One club currently sit in 4th in the National League North and are on course to challenge for a promotion spot this season.

Embed from Getty Images

With Sheffield Wednesday owner, Dejphon Chansiri, today also asserting that from now, he “will not put additional money into the club” and with similar issues present at Southend, Reading and Derby – the calls for an immediate independent regulator will only get louder in the weeks to come.

The Government is set to introduce the new commission in 2024, but this could be too little too late for Scunthorpe United.


  • Ed Dowling

    Ed is an Editor at the Sports Gazette. A much-maligned Tottenham fan, he mainly talks and writes about football in England and abroad. He is also a Senior Reporter for Nigeria's biggest sports radio station, Brila FM.