What does Clark’s departure mean for Tigers?

Worksop Town FC, Sandy Lane, Worksop.'Club locked out of the ground.
Worksop Town FC, Sandy Lane, Worksop.'Club locked out of the ground.
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It was fun while it lasted, but the good times might just have come to an end for Worksop Town Football Club.

Jason Clark came out of nowhere, in 2010, to rescue Tigers from the brink of financial ruin, and four years on his departure was just as much out of the blue.

CEO of data storage company Proact, Clark was a very busy man.

But his lack of public communication in recent months was perhaps the writing on the wall that no one wanted to see.

Late on Wednesday night club chairman Ian Smith confirmed to the Guardian that Clark’s tenure as owner had indeed ended.

Some fans responded with disbelief, others with nonchalance because they had an inkling it was coming.

Every single Tiger will tell you, however, that this is bad news.

Clark was the money man for the past four years, single handedly bank rolling the operation and multiple bids to get promoted.

It was under his control that Tigers struck a deal with Pete Whitehead to move back into town at Sandy Lane.

This season was without doubt the best Worksop Town campaign for some time, and it very nearly ended in promotion.

Off the field, however, they were dealt a blow when it became clear the Vesuvius development was not going to yield a new home.

This, I believe, was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Clark – who maintained there was no future for him at the club without a permanent ground.

Sandy Lane, albeit for sale by leaseholder Pete Whitehead, was apparently not a viable option – the Guardian believes the cost to have been the prohibiting factor.

So Clark was left ploughing money in for a football club to rent a ground, with no return whatsoever.

Tigers essentially became a hole for the businessman to throw his money into.

And now he’s gone, and the club are without debt but largely broke.

The house of cards threatens to topple, because Plan A – Clark’s wallet – has closed.

One can only imagine how Mark Shaw feels, as he will presumably have to watch the fantastic side he built drift away to other clubs.

It’s a horrible situation for all involved – the staff, the players, club officials and the people who pay their hard earned cash to cheer them on.

The questions are endless.

Would he have stayed had promotion been secured? Clark was unavailable for comment at the time of writing, but has indicated he will speak to the Guardian.

Why drop the bombshell now?

Can Tigers afford to play football next season at Sandy Lane? Pete Whitehead has suggested a deal is there to be made to play there for ‘next to nothing’.

Can they afford to play Northern Premier League standard?

If not can they drop down the pyramid, or have they missed the deadline?

Is there another Jason Clark out there?

Could the fans take control, in the same way FC United of Manchester operate, albeit on a smaller scale?

Will local politicians stand by and let 153 years of history come to a devastating end?

Could this conceivably be the end for the world’s fourth oldest football club?

The facts, as we go to print on Thursday morning, are scarce.

But what we do know is this – there are those at the club who will fight for survival, even if it means playing Northern Counties East League football, somewhere out of town.

And there is a fanbase, a very loyal and dedicated band of supporters who have followed their team into exile twice in the past 25 years.

There is a rich history, with league titles, wonderful tales of FA Cup exploits and players who achieved great things.

Surely it’s enough to build on?