Worksop Town FC is under new ownership and they say they have a seven to 10-year plan to bring back the ‘golden’ times for the Tigers.
Football writer Graham Smyth sat down with the men charged with safeguarding the club’s future, to find out why they got involved and how they plan to guide the club to success.
Here’s part two of that conversation.
WG - Worksop Guardian
JB - Jake Brown, non-exec director of communications and brand
PW - Paul Williams, managing director
PT - Paul Tomkins, chairman
NR - Niall Robertson, director of operations
WG: If promotion from the NCEL Premier is one of your goals, what kind of timeframe would you put on it?
PW: The strategy, and there is one, is that we have a seven to 10 year plan, going in 18 month to two-year steps, which we think are realistic.
We’ve got a different philosophy of how we want to see the game played. You talk about a revolving door, under our leadership that will stop.
WG: Will the football management team remain as it is currently?
PT: All the positions at the club at the moment are under review.
PW: That’s no different from any other business when there’s a takeover.
WG: The club doesn’t own its own ground, so how will you make it sustainable?
PW: Logic says we’re one of the biggest non league clubs, with a fabulous fanbase. We want to grow that fanbase. We will be restructuring how we engage with fans, in a positive way.
Because we have a new community ethos we’ll be engaging with the town in lots of different ways.
By running things more business-like and efficiently and putting in things fans want, you build a revenue base.
This is a very good venue, we’re working on an event programme, mainly around live music, food and key events through the year.
That means we’ve got a guaranteed stream of money coming in, two very efficient bars, plans to tackle things like a proper shop, an online presence so people can buy merchandise.
We’re radically reviewing a membership or subscription to the club.
Two main priorities are health and wellbeing and education, so we’ll be doing a lot of work in the community with big partners, which will bring in grants.
All that makes positive signals to the FA and obviously part of mine and Niall’s role will to bring in football money, looking at the Football Foundation etc.
That’s how it’s sustainable, you don’t rely on one income source.
If you do things well, it will speak for itself.
The other part of the strategy is that if you have a club focused on one income stream, first team matches, 21 a year, it’s not very sustainable.
But if you have a winning Under 19s and a winning ladies team, like we’ve got, you invest in that and junior football, automatically you have 600 or 700 people who don’t come to first team matches who have now brought money into the club that the club has never had.
It’s no different than any other business.
It’s setting a quality football budget, one that is competitive in this league, to give us in 18 months the chance to get out.
But, you want to be looking at investing in football development from seven up, that’s where you go looking for your players, who have been coached in the Worksop way of playing.
Then you build a team of players like Callum Fielding, all those lads, the next generation.
Paul and I love that, investing in the next generation.
There is your strategy.
The club has got to operate outside of this little patch of ground, so you’ll see Worksop Town in other parts of the town and other parts of the district. That’s how it’s going to grow. If it just sits on this little pocket of ground, lots of people don’t know it exists.
JB: We’ve got to go to them and reach out to them.
WG: Have you already had consultations with the Supporters Trust on how things will be run?
PW: Obviously up until very recently they were still in control, indirectly, through the management group. They have a director who sits on the board of directors, so there’s already a dialogue.
Obviously I need to put some clear blue water around this new era. It will be a fan involved club. But that involvement will take a new shape, volunteering, subscribing, getting involved in the wider club.
WG: Worksop Town supporters have suffered a number of false dawns and disappointments in recent years, so what is your message to them?
JB: Just to trust us really, we’ve been around the club for the last six or seven months and we pretty much know them all now.
PT: I think we’ve lifted the mood, reignited the club and Paul and I have already invested quite a lot of money in it. We’ve not invested that money just to sit here and not make it better than it already is.
PW: It goes back to that trustee role doesn’t it? It’s that we are here so the club has another 150 years. We aren’t here for a quick fix. We’ll need everybody’s support to make this happen. We’ll involve as many people as possible in the turn around.
It’s a new era, it’s a very different way of running a football club. Lots of people in football are very interested to see it work. They’re really interested. It could be a model for other clubs going forward.
When football was founded Worksop were there. Wouldn’t it be good that as football reshapes itself this club is at the forefront again of thinking what does football look like in a town.
It’s a town football club at the end of the day.
PT: We want to be acting as a football club that’s maybe two or three divisions above where we are now, so we’re ready for that transition in the future.
PW: We know a lot of the fans already. We’re just making sure this amazing football club is here in 150 years’ time.
Worksop Town will hold an open forum on Friday 26th January at 7pm at Sandy Lane.