To the fans,
At the end of a very disappointing season on the pitch, I thought it would be appropriate to address you the true supporters of Staines Town Football Club.
To take you back to the very start in the months prior to taking over the football club, I was told that due to a lack of concrete interest in taking on the club following a sales campaign in the Non League Paper one of two things would be happening; going into the new season that the club was either going to merge with a local team and join the combined counties league or was going to be folded altogether.
We gained full control of the football club last summer, and contrary to popular belief we inherited a team whose manager and various senior players had announced their intention to leave prior to us as a new ownership group having the sufficient control of the club. A lot of the players were left in the dark and were upset by how the change of ownership was handled. I do believe the transition could have been handled in a far more professional way and I am certainly understanding of a lot of the 2017/18 players and coaching staff’s disappointment relating to that transition.
We decided to appoint Cristian Colás as the club’s new manager and Stuart Bimson as his assistant on what was a more than a competitive budget to keep us in the division. The playing budget, a topic of popular conversation was larger than more than half of the teams in the Southern Premier Division. Although the coaching staff did struggle with recruitment, we felt we had given them the funds to be able to attract players of the right level to secure stability in the first year.
Pre-season didn’t go to plan and the opening 6 league fixtures yielded 2 victories against Chesham Utd at Home and Poole Town Away, leaving the club in a mid-table position.
It was at this point in early September that serious off-field issues started to arise with a third party.
Following a defeat in the FA Cup to local rivals Egham and another defeat in the league to Salisbury we began to slide down the table and felt it was necessary to remove Cristian Colás as manager of the football club.
We appointed an interim manager, and have since gone through various managers who have had to coach under very difficult circumstances as off field issues accelerated.
The fact of the matter is that September is effectively where our season ended, it became obvious to me that we would have to commit resources away from the playing side to try to secure the future of the football club and that is what we have decided to do.
More experienced players on higher wages began to filter out and by the turn of the year we were left with academy players and a few more senior players who have stuck around in order to try and support the club. This has clearly had a dramatic effect on the results, attendances and match day revenues.
At the time of writing there is very little I can say about the issues that have created the problems that the club are currently having. They are problems that have been underlying for a very long period of time, long before we arrived at the club. But for the football club to survive and to be in any way self sustainable they need to be rectified, this is something that we are committing significant resources to and as soon as I can update you on this I will.
The decision was very simple commercially, either commit the resources to keep the team in the division or commit to the long term future of the club.
There are too many clubs in non league football that are simply built on sand, Staines Town Football Club needs to move away from these dangerous waters and to do that it was absolutely key to take the short term pain, as difficult as it is for everyone involved at the football club.
I am fully aware that in football, people have a very short term mindset whether it be fans, players or coaches. A non league club the stature of Staines Town has high expectations and rightly so. As a consequence of my decision to take the long-term view on the club I fully expect and accept any criticism and frustration that comes from the paying fans due to the results we have been having and I am greatly appreciative of all of you who continue to support us and what we are trying to build here.
We are also taking the positive step of forming a new committee for the 2019/20 season, meetings have already taken place and roles are being assigned. It is very important that we form a structure where people have clearly defined roles so that we can operate functionally.
We had an unfortunate incident last Saturday against Gosport Borough when one of the club’s ex-committee members walked into Wheatsheaf Park for free and towards the end of the game decided to threaten one of the club’s volunteers and continued to swear at a female spectator.
To make this clear, this is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated by anybody at Staines Town Football Club. As a result this particular person has been banned for life from entering Wheatsheaf Park and will also be unable to enter The Thames Bar on a match day.
I want to thank everybody for all of their help and support this year under difficult circumstances, particularly Kevin Rowell, Steve Parsons and Angie Payne have been invaluable to the football club.
David Norris and the Supporters Club have also been a great help to the club and have continued to support us through thick and thin, as have all of the match day volunteers and stewards.
Finally with regards to next season we plan to be as competitive as possible. I expect there to be developments over summer with regards to off field issues but it is possible that we start the 2019/20 season working under the same constraints as we have finished this season. That does not mean that we will not invest in a competitive playing squad and experienced coaching staff but it is very important that we all work together to maximise this.
Staines Town Football Club is a huge part of this local community and to be as competitive as possible next season we need to tap into that. We need to attract local sponsors who are prepared to support us, attract new local fans and look into potential grants and schemes that can help support the football club.
I hope you enjoy your summer and look forward to seeing you next season.