Clark explains Worksop Town departure

Cannon Park, Leverton Road, Retford.'Worksop Town FC vs Chasetown.'Picture: Far right is Worksop Town FC Chairman Jason Clark. w100918-6i
Cannon Park, Leverton Road, Retford.'Worksop Town FC vs Chasetown.'Picture: Far right is Worksop Town FC Chairman Jason Clark. w100918-6i

Jason Clark says Worksop Town’s lack of a home and his growing commitments outside the game forced him to leave the club he bank rolled.

The former owner revealed to the Guardian that he told the board of directors in March that he would not be putting cash into the club next season.

He took aim at the council, blasting what he called their disinterest in helping the club secure a home.

And the businessman believes that without a ground, Tigers must drop to a level at which they can stand on their own two feet financially.

A club statement released on Wednesday night confirmed Clark’s departure, but said nothing of his reasons.

Speaking to the Guardian from his business base in Chesterfield, he said: “I don’t know why (the news) didn’t come out until this week.”

“I made it clear I would not be putting money in this season, the directors were told in March that I would not be putting money in.”

“I had lined the option of going to another ground, outside Worksop, but they worked out they could afford to stay at Sandy Lane and have a playing budget.”

“But I haven’t been party to any of the dialogue so I don’t know if that’s changed.”

Clark is leaving the club debt free, and insists he is happy to write off the £550,000 he put into Worksop Town since arriving on the scene in 2010.

He said the realisation that the Vesuvius development was not going to yield a stadium good enough for Tigers was a major factor in his decision to leave, along with changes in his personal circumstances including a move down south.

“I’ve managed two or three games in the second half ot the season, I didn’t make the play-offs and if I’m moving away I’m getting next to no enjoyment out of it.”

“I’ve got a young family, and when I started I didn’t have that lifestyle, it was great fun.”

“I’m sorry about the whole situation, geuinely, if they had their own ground I would have reduced my funding and that would have made them self sufficient.”

“Sandy Lane wasn’t an option, not at £750.000.”

“The Vesuvius thing absolutely knocked the stuffing out of me. The council has provided no assistance or had any interest in providing assistance.”

“The council have paid lip service to the club, not once has someone come to me and said we’ve got this facility, how can we make it work?”

“They were all standing outside Retford Town Hall, with Tigers fans, putting pressure on the Tories for the good of the football club, where is all that now?”

With no forseeable possibility of owning a home, Clark believes Tigers must find a level of football they can afford without a backer.

“There’s no future for it without a solid base. We’ve had great fun but there’s no future for it.”

“It must drop to a level where it’s self funded. The entity must survive.”

“Outside of a hardcore of individuals, everyone works for a living and there’s not the people to develop the club and the commercial side of it.”

Clark will look back fondly on his time with Tigers, four years that provided highlights on the pitch, if not off it.

“The club was in dire straights when I came along.”

“We steadied the ship, watched some fantastic football and had some highs and lows.”

“I’m really proud of what we achieved, we broke the league goalscoring record this year and Mark Shaw proved his capabilities as a manager and tactician. The stuff he did off the pitch and his commitment to the club and enthusiasm was infectious.”

“He got good players playing for the club and not the money.”

“But the elephant in the room was always finding a suitable home.”

Responding to Clark’s comments, club secretary Keith Ilett said: “All I want to talk about is the future, which is moving very fast.”

“After the weekend we hope to have some good news, I’ve spoken to quite a few people at different leagues and levels.”

“There is a future, it’s just a case of securing a ground and weighing up the finances.”

He also said that last season’s failure to win promotion may have been a blessing in disguise.

“If we had gone up, it would have crucified the club.”