Crawley Town F.C.
Crawley Town Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Crawley, West Sussex, England. The club was founded as Crawley Football Club in 1896, changed its name to Crawley Town Football Club in 1958. The team compete in EFL League Two, the fourth tier of the English football league system. The club has played home games at Broadfield Stadium since 1997 and are nicknamed the "Reds" or "Red Devils" due to the colour of their kit.
|Full name||Crawley Town Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||The Reds, Red Devils|
|League||EFL League Two|
|2020–21||EFL League Two, 12th of 24|
Founded in 1896, Crawley helped to found the West Sussex League later that year before transferring to the Mid-Sussex League. The club disbanded in 1935, but were re-established in the Brighton, Hove & District League three years later. The club switched to the Sussex County League in 1951 and then moved on to the Metropolitan League five years later. The club moved from amateur to semi-professional status in 1962 and were accepted into the Southern League the following year. They secured promotion out of Division One in 1968–69, only to suffer relegation the next season.
Crawley were promoted out of the Southern League Southern Section 1983–84 and spent the next 21 seasons in the Premier Division, before winning promotion into the Conference as champions of the Southern League in 2003–04. The club turned fully professional in 2005 but faced immediate financial difficulties and entered administration the following year. The club survived and appointed Steve Evans as a manager in May 2007. Evans led them into the Football League as champions of the Conference in 2010–11 and then secured promotion in their first season in League Two. Crawley spent three seasons in League One before their relegation in 2015.
Having played friendly matches from 1890, with the club's first match played on 22 November 1890 at home to Lingfield, Crawley Town were formed in 1896, and became founding members of the West Sussex Football League that year, joining the Junior Division. They remained in the West Sussex league for five years before transferring to the Mid-Sussex League, winning the League in only their second season. After disbanding at the end of the 1934–35 season, the club reformed in 1938 and joined Division Two of the Brighton, Hove & District League. They played in the Sussex County Emergency League in 1945–45, before returning to the Brighton, Hove & District League in 1946–47, becoming members of Division One.
They stayed at this level until they entered the Sussex County League in 1951 before switching again five years later to the Metropolitan League, which was a competition for both professional and amateur sides. In 1958, Crawley changed their name to Crawley Town. Town retained their amateur status and went on to win the Metropolitan League Challenge Cup in 1959.
Crawley turned semi-professional in 1962 and the following year they joined Division One of the Southern League. In 1969 they were promoted to Premier Division of the Southern League but the joy was short-lived as the following season they were relegated back to the first division where they remained until the 1983–84 season when they were promoted as runners-up.
Crawley's most successful cup run at the time was in the 1991–92 season when they reached The FA Cup third round proper and played local rivals Brighton & Hove Albion, losing 5–0 in front of 18,301 at the Goldstone Ground.
In 1999, the club entered administration with debts estimated to be around £400,000. In October 1999, the club was bought by John Duly after a period of 2 months in administration, with Billy Smith appointed as manager. At the time, the Reds were second-bottom, but the club went on to finish in 12th place, 6 points above the relegation zone. Whilst the 2000-2001 season saw Town finish 11th, Crawley were much improved in a 2001-2002 campaign which saw them finish fourth. Whilst Crawley finished 7th in 2002-03, the Reds found success in the 2003-04 season, when they ended their 20-season stay in the Premier Division of the Southern League by winning the division with 84 points, 12 points clear of second-placed Weymouth, and winning the Southern League Cup for the second successive season. The title was secured with four matches remaining with a 3–0 victory at Welling United, sparking celebrations from a large travelling contingent. Crawley would now be playing in the Football Conference, the highest level of non-League football, for the first time in their history.
A final position of 12th in their first season in the National Division was considered an impressive achievement for the club who finished as the highest-ranked part-time team in the country. Crawley also retained the Sussex Senior Cup by defeating Ringmer.
In 2005, the SA Group bought the club and made the decision to go full-time for the first time in the club's history. Although this was necessary in order to allow them to compete in the division, it led to the departure of several key players, including fans' favourite Charlie MacDonald and goalkeeper Andy Little, who were unable to give up their day jobs to play full-time.
The 2005–06 season didn't start well for Crawley as the club found themselves third from bottom and out of the FA Cup after a shock defeat to Braintree Town. Francis Vines was subsequently sacked and replaced by former Chelsea FC manager and player John Hollins and his assistant Alan Lewer. Things got worse for Crawley and as attendances dropped, and so too did the club's income; the club's owners were forced to slash the players' and staff wages by 50% due to lack of funds. Several key players left the club, including captain Ian Simpemba, Simon Wormull and record signing Daryl Clare; it looked certain that relegation was on the cards. However five straight wins through March and April saw the club climb the table to 17th place and beat the drop by 10 points. The club was docked three points at the end of the season for breaching the annual playing budget but this had no effect on the final standings and Crawley's league status was safe. However, they later went into administration, with insolvency specialists Begbies Traynor placed in control of the club.
Although Crawley Town F.C. had been in administration in the late 1990s, trouble began in March 2006 when the club's players and staff were made to take a 50% pay cut and the entire squad was put up for sale; Crawley went into administration in June of that year. It was revealed by local newspaper the Argus several days later that the chairman Chas Majeed was an undischarged bankrupt and therefore banned from holding a high position within the club. Majeed later resigned from his post but remained involved.
The fans started a "Red Card" campaign in order to remove Chas Majeed and his owner brother Azwar Majeed from the club, with fans waving red cards at the Majeeds and forming a supporters' trust. It was revealed that the club was around £1.1million in debt with nearly £400,000 due to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), and the Majeeds claimed they were owed £700,000 by the club. By July of that year, the debts were closer to £1.4 million, including money owed to current and former staff, and an offer of 25p in the pound was rejected by the creditors. With HMRC unwilling to move on its demand and being the biggest creditor (the Majeeds were unable to vote on the matter despite being owed money), it looked unlikely that the club would be saved.
By August 2006, only one bid had come in for the club which was from the current owners; it was rejected by three to one; the administrators were therefore obliged to liquidate the club and it was announced that the club would fold later that day. However, a couple of days later, in one final attempt to rescue the club, the creditors met again to decide on a final offer. The creditors were split and so the administrator voted in Crawley Town's favour, allowing them to start the new season. The creditors would meet 14 days later to decide on an offer of 50p in the pound. The club was told that if the offer was rejected then the club would fold there and then, and there would be no going back. By September 2006 the club's debt was at £1.8 million making former/current players and staff the biggest creditors and giving hope that a rescue bid would be accepted. The offer of 50p in the pound was later accepted and Crawley Town was able to continue playing for the time being, though this didn't stop HMRC from trying to wind up the SAGroup (Majeed's company) over unpaid taxes. Azwar Majeed was later jailed for tax fraud relating to his various other businesses.
Crawley started the 2006–07 season by winning their opening three games and all but wiped out their 10-point deduction. The following month, however, the club's form dipped and this led to John Hollins and Alan Lewer losing their jobs. The news did not go down well with the fans as the pair had stuck with Crawley when others decided to leave and they had managed to lift the club off the bottom despite a 10-point deduction. They were replaced by players Ben Judge and David Woozley with the help of John Yems, the former Fulham FC and Millwall FC coach. Life started well for the trio who picked up 10 points from a possible 12. Crawley finished 18th in the division and managed to beat the drop after securing the point they needed on the final day of the season.
In May 2007, it was confirmed that all of Crawley Town's debts had been cleared. However, complications arose and as a result Crawley were given a six-point penalty for the new season and a transfer embargo was put in place because of financial irregularities. It is believed that Crawley failed to confirm to the league that the debts had been paid. For the start of the 2007–08 season, a new regime was put into place which included Victor Marley as club Chairman and Steve Evans as manager, with Paul Raynor as an assistant. Crawley finished the season in a respectable 15th place, and were runners-up in the Sussex Senior Cup, despite the club's financial position and points deduction.
In April 2008 Prospect Estate Holdings Limited took control of Crawley after buying it from the SA Group in conjunction with former owner John Duly. The club's financial worries were over and the club could look to build again and start the 2008–09 season on a level playing field.
After a short period of stability, Crawley Town ended up in the High Court in London to face a winding-up order on 17 February 2010; again this was because of money being owed to HMRC. The hearing was adjourned until 17 March 2010. The latest setback appeared to be the end of Crawley Town, as the club had very few assets to sell in order to satisfy the debt. However, the case was later dismissed by the High Court as the club proved the debt had been paid.
In a move that showed confidence in the new management, on 29 March 2010 Crawley Borough Council agreed to lease the Broadfield Stadium to Crawley Town F.C. and to help secure the long-term sustainability of the club.
FA Cup run & Football League
In 2010, Bruce Winfield announced that he and Susan Carter had become majority shareholders and had attracted new investment for the club, some of which came from overseas. The investment allowed manager Steve Evans to start rebuilding the squad, which saw 23 players signed over a six-month period including Matt Tubbs, for £70,000, Sergio Torres for a record £100,000, and Richard Brodie for an undisclosed fee, which was estimated to be a new Conference record of £275,000.
The investment paid off as Crawley were challenging for promotion to the Football League and embarked on a remarkable FA Cup run. Victories over Newport County, Guiseley and Swindon Town saw the club progress to a third round tie at home to Championship side Derby County. They won 2–1, and followed it up with a 1–0 win at League Two side Torquay United in the fourth round. The fifth round draw saw Crawley face away tie with then Premier League leaders Manchester United, with manager Steve Evans admitting it was 'the tie of his dreams'. Crawley lost the fifth round tie 1–0 in front of 9,000 Crawley fans, though were denied a draw when Richard Brodie's header hit the bar in the 93rd minute.
In March 2011, club owner Bruce Winfield died from cancer, aged 61. Despite their cup run and the death of owner Bruce Winfield, Crawley didn't halt their progress in the league as just 19 days after Winfield's death, Crawley secured the 2010–11 Football Conference title by beating Tamworth 3–0 and reaching the Football League for the first time in the club's history.
In the 2011–12 season, they once again enjoyed success in the FA Cup, beating Championship clubs Bristol City and Hull City both 1–0 home and away respectively. They suffered a 2–0 defeat against Stoke City in the fifth round. This was Crawley's first match against Premier League opposition at the Broadfield Stadium.
Crawley finished 2011 at the top of League Two; a positive start to their first campaign in league football. However, despite continued success in the FA Cup, form slipped. Between 17 December 2011, and 13 March 2012, Crawley won just two league games out of a possible 14. Many argued the sales of Matt Tubbs and Tyrone Barnett for £800,000 and £1,100,000 respectively, as well as failing to reach a deal over Andy Drury contributed to their dip in form. Three Crawley players were involved in a post-match brawl against Bradford City, including former club captain Pablo Mills (suspended for six matches) and fellow defender Claude Davis (suspended for four matches). Five players from both clubs were suspended in total equalling the record for the most dismissals in an English game. Consequently, Crawley were fined £18,000. Following an FA inquiry into the events that took place, Kyle McFadzean was handed a four-game suspension after being found guilty of violent conduct. All three players have since released apology statements, and were all fined two weeks' wages. Despite apologising, Mills was stripped of his captaincy for behaviour not befitting the role of a club captain. He was released by the club at the conclusion of the 2011/12 season.
On 9 April, it was announced that Steve Evans had parted company with Crawley to take up a post at Rotherham United. Evans revealed "In my opinion, how far can I take Crawley Town? League One certainly, but beyond that I was not so sure". Evans had previously admitted frustration over the departures of Matt Tubbs and Tyrone Barnett. Assistant manager Paul Raynor also left the club with immediate effect, with coach Craig Brewster taking over as manager for the remainder of the season. Steve Coppell was appointed as director of football with immediate effect.
It was announced on 12 May, that Crawley were in talks to appoint Sean O'Driscoll as their new manager. Under a tight budget at Doncaster Rovers he achieved promotion to the Football League Championship in his first full season. He was appointed as manager four days later. Despite Crawley chief executive Alan Williams being convinced they had made 'the perfect appointment', he left on 12 July, to become the new manager of Nottingham Forest, meaning that he did not take charge of Crawley for a single game.
On 7 August 2012, Crawley appointed Bury F.C. manager Richie Barker as their new manager. Under Barker's management the club had a successful debut season in League One, challenging for the play-offs for much of the campaign and finishing comfortably in tenth place. The club caused controversy, however, by banning a reporter from Crawley News because the club's management disliked two of his paper's headlines. The club were condemned for this in a motion signed by 23 MPs on 10 December 2013. Barker was sacked early in the following season for speaking to League Two side Portsmouth about their manager's job. He was replaced by John Gregory, who steered the club to another mid-table finish despite a poor late run.
The 2014–15 season saw Crawley struggle for form, and Gregory resigned for health reasons near the end of 2014, with the club in the relegation zone. Dean Saunders was appointed to replace him on an interim basis, and despite an upturn in form, was unable to get the club out of trouble. On Sunday 3 May 2015, Crawley were relegated to League Two, following a 1–2 defeat at home to Coventry City. Saunders' short-term deal was not renewed after the season ended, and he was replaced by Mark Yates.
Return to League Two
While Crawley were among the pre-season promotion favourites, a run of just one win in their first ten games quickly put paid to any such hopes. Their form improved as the season progressed, with the West Sussex outfit 12th by 26 December. In March 2016, the club was purchased by Turkish businessman Ziya Eren, who set a target for the club to be playing in the Championship within 8–10 years. Following a run of 6 consecutive defeats, Yates was sacked just before the season ended, with Dermot Drummy appointed as his successor.
The 2016–17 season started strongly for the Reds and fans liked the new strategy put in place by the new manager Dermot Drummy. However, Dermot Drummy and his assistant Matt Gray were both to see the door after a year in charge after a very worrying dip in from which would see Crawley fight the relegation zone. After drawing at home to Carlisle United 3–3 after captain Jimmy Smith's late goal, Crawley would be kept in the EFL League Two at least another season. On 4 May, the club sacked assistant Matt Gray and head coach Dermot Drummy after under a year in charge. Shortly over a year later, on 27 November 2017, Drummy was found dead near the A414 in Hoddesdon, with the cause of death later confirmed to be suicide.
On 23 May 2017, former Leeds United winger Harry Kewell was appointed head coach of League Two club Crawley Town, becoming the first Australian to coach a professional English side, with Warren Feeney appointed assistant manager to Kewell. Kewell managed Crawley to a 14th-placed finish, which was their best since their relegation from League One. Kewell left the club shortly into the 2018–19 season, to manage fellow League Two club Notts County. Gabriele Cioffi was appointed as his successor a week later and led the club to finish 19th that season.
The 2019–20 season saw Crawley Town compete in League Two for the fifth consecutive season. Despite the club reaching the Fourth round of the EFL Cup, their best performance in the competition, manager Gabriele Cioffi left the club by mutual consent on 2 December 2019, with the club having won just once in their previous 11 matches with the club 17th in League Two. Cioffi was replaced by former manager John Yems three days later on a deal until the end of the season. Following an upturn in the club's form, with Crawley losing just 2 of their following 11 matches, Yems' contract was extended until the end of the 2022–23 season in late January 2020. However, in March 2020, the League Two season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Crawley still having a further 9 games to play. The season was later cancelled, with Crawley finishing 13th after clubs agreed to base the final table on points per game.
Crawley Town FC spent 48 years at their Town Mead home until the land was sold to developers in 1997. The club then moved to the Broadfield Stadium, about two miles across town. The stadium has a capacity of 5,996 people, and is owned by Crawley Borough Council.
In January 2012 the application for the new 2,000-seater East Stand (and facilities including new turnstiles and Premier League standard flood lights) was accepted by Crawley Borough Council. The upgrade is required to meet the league rules which require a minimum 5,000 capacity stadium. After just one week of construction, the new East Stand was completed on 2 April 2012, bringing the total capacity of the Broadfield Stadium to 5,500. Upon completion, Crawley's first game with the new stand was against League Two side Crewe Alexandra on 6 April. The match ended in a 1–1 draw, with a new record crowd of 4,723, the previous best being 4,522.
Between 2013 and 2018, the stadium was called The Checkatrade.com Stadium as part of a sponsorship deal with the online trades comparison company Checkatrade. Since December 2018 the stadium has been named The People’s Pension Stadium.
Crawley Town supporters view AFC Wimbledon as their biggest rivals in a 2012 survey. This is partly due to their relatively close proximity, and partly due to their frequent meetings since 2009. The two sides did not play each other between 2012 and 2015 due to Crawley's promotion to League One. However Crawley's relegation during the 2014–15 Football League One season means the two sides played each other on 15 August 2015, which Wimbledon won 2–1 after going a goal down. The survey also indicates that Town fans view Brighton & Hove Albion and Swindon Town as their second and third largest rivals respectively.
First team squad
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
|Head Coach||John Yems|
|Assistant Head Coach||Lee Bradbury|
|First Team Coach||Lewis Young|
|Head Physio||Harry Brooke|
|Fitness Coach||Joel Hanington|
|Kit Manager||Marcus Doyle|
|Data & Opposition analyst||Gareth Cooper|
Directors and non-playing staff
|Owner and Chairman||Ziya Eren|
|Director of Football||Erdem Konyar|
|Managing Director||Selim Gaygusuz|
|Communications Manager||Tom Allman|
|Chief Photographer||James Boardman|
|Director of Football||James Argent|
League Two (4th tier)
- 3rd place promotion: 2011–12
Conference National (5th tier)
- Champions: 2010–11
Southern League Premier Division
- Champions: 2003–04
Southern League Division One / Southern Section
- Winners: 1959
- Winners: 1990, 1991, 2003, 2005
- Runners-up: 1959, 1996, 2008, 2017, 2018
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