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  • Writer's pictureTom Sullivan

Scunthorpe United: What happened?

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

With Scunthorpe owner David Hilton announcing the withdrawal of his funding to the club, many since have wondered just what has happened to the side that found themselves playing Championship football just over a decade ago. So without further ado, let me show you how a team once considered to be overachieving went from the second tier of English football to the sixth.

To call it a sad situation would be an understatement, as the club’s been in jeopardy with its owners since Peter Swann was appointed in 2013. Despite his £20m investment, the businessman became extremely unpopular with the fans, as the club declined financially, losing around £100k a month. Protests soon followed when the ownership of their stadium, Glanford Park, was transferred to a separate company owned by Swann. He later issued an apology, however the overall lack of communication from the former owner left supporters frustrated regardless.


In early 2022, Swann announced his resignation with immediate effect, as Scunthorpe were relegated from the National League shortly afterwards. This ended a 72-year stay in the Football League, with the club sitting second from bottom, leaving fans heartbroken as they ultimately fell from League One to the National League during and soon after the end of Swann’s reign as chairman.


After a failed proposed takeover deal, the club were in serious risk of administration. This was followed by a short-lasted glimmer of hope for Iron supporters, as the club announced David Hilton as Swann’s successor at the beginning of 2023, who then settled their tax debt. Fans wanted to believe, however inevitable relegation to the National League Northalong with Hilton’s failure to purchase the stadium from Swann’s company made fans increasingly unsure of their new owner. Add this to the emerging rumours of unpaid bills, wages as well as pension payments, and you can see how the fans quickly lost faith, especially after some staff left the club altogether.


The trust issues with Hilton and supporters only worsened, after media outlets uncovered his past as a convicted fraudster, fans were shocked as to how their beloved community club could possibly trust a man with 15 counts of fraud to steady the already sinking ship. And as you may have guessed, the situation only further declined, with Hilton withdrawing his funding, and the club announcing that they would be leaving Glanford Park after October 7, with no guarantee that the move away will be temporary. In an update from Scunthorpe, it was also mentioned that Hilton intends to ‘seek a way out’, as the chairman faces FA investigation in terms of the ‘validity of his ownership rights’.


Scunthorpe still face hefty legal fees, and with no potential purchasers as of now, it really is a worrying time for the club. And fans can only thank the stubbornness of Swann for the ongoing legal proceedings which have forced the sixth-tier side to vacate their own stadium. Overall, it’s a real shame for those hoping Hilton could be the fresh start their side needed; however it now seems that any hopes of an upturn have all but faded away: a truly shocking situation to say the least.


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