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 is part one 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: So how did you come to get involved at Worksop Town Football Club?
JB: I was brought into the club by Richard Brandon (former member of the club’s decision making committee) in March and Paul Williams came with me and fell in love with the club. We then introduced Paul Tomkins and Niall.
PW: I fell in love with the club. The person that helped me fall in love with it is John Stocks, the history of the club lit me up, that was something I was really passionate about.
The club then bit me, took hold. When you enter something and see the potential, that’s when it started.
All I was doing initially was helping them review the club, it was going through another one of its transitions.
Slowly but surely, as you get involved in something and volunteering, you get really engaged with it.
There came a point when I thought I want to do a bit more.
I had conversations with Niall, Paul and Jake and we sat down and said let’s see if we can move this forward.
We’re not like sugar daddy football owners, we’ve not got millions of pounds to throw at it.
What we’re trying to do is build an off the pitch team to make the club self sustaining and operate as a really successful football club that sustains the first team on the pitch.
You can have your billionaires coming in and taking over, but the beauty of this club is that it’s still a proper town community club.
It’s got a massive following, the passion in the fans is brilliant. It’s second to none.
All we’re doing is chipping in and helping.
Don’t think of us as normal owners, think of us more as trustees, we’re here to make sure it never goes under, that it grows, gets back to where it was and has another golden era.
JB: Hopefully now people will see us as a community hub.
PT: It’s bigger than just a football club.
WG: How was Paul Tomkins introduced to the club?
PW: In the summer there was some ground changes with the landlord and we needed a new stand quite quickly for the new season.
I had six or eight weeks and someone introduced me to Paul, we got on really well and I shared the vision of how I saw it moving forward and he agreed.
PT: He really sold it to me, making it bigger, better, brighter and sustainable.
I just came in to help Paul with the stand, but in the time it took me to make the stand and put it in, about three weeks, he’d sold it to me and I thought I could buy into it and offer quite a lot. We really work well together. It was a good fit.
WG: What are your backgrounds?
PT: I’m from engineering.
Niall: I’m Paul’s business partner. I came on board here because my degree is in sport business management.
WG: How will your new set-up work?
PW: What I’m trying to do is build a team and over the next few weeks, there will be announcements on new people we’re going to bring in. Do they bring the skills that the club needs, not are they mates of...it can’t operate like that.
It needs people in football to be qualified as possible and the same in the operation.
Whether that’s understanding hospitality and event market, sports management, social media, all those sets of skills need to be built together.
That’s maybe what it’s been its shortfall over the last few years.
Paul and I are both men who like to encourage those young entrepreneurial creative individuals, that will bring the club to life.
A massive part of that is working in the community and reigniting the juniors, the ladies section, make it one club.
It’s just being practical, having a sense of a bigger vision, what we’re working towards and then assembling the team to deliver it.
Where it goes wrong is when it relies on one man’s vision, signing a cheque every week, when that man moves on the club collapses in on itself.
PT: We’re coming at it with sustainability and when we’ve taken it as far as we can, and we’re in it for a good long time, we’ll put it on someone who can take it further.
WG: How did you come to own Jason Clark’s shares and why did he write off the debt?
PW: The transfer between Jason and us was on the understanding that he bought into the vision. So much so that he wrote off the debt, that’s a major commitment from that man. He did it because he felt secure in handing over to a team of people, people he believes can get it where it needs to be.
The Trust and the DMC were running the club, they brought me in and the conversations were about him needing to feel confident about releasing control. It was his baby. Once he was convinced we weren’t going to do anything rash, he understood that for the club to move forward it needed that clean balance sheet. Me and Paul don’t have £650,000 to just write a debt off, we’re happy to give it cashflow, bring in investors and support it.
We’ll never see it go under, that’s a commitment we’ve made as a group. That’s not going to happen. We’ve done a lot of that already, before we even owned it we made sure - I got the body out of the crash unit and at least back on the ward.
It’s going to be a slow process. You’re not going to see a massive injection of capital, but strategical thinking to build the club on and off the pitch.
WG: Will you need ‘football people’ alongside you?
PW: The new set up, there’s two parts to it. We’re forming a football leadership group, they are football people. Within that group there will be UEFA A, UEFA B type coaches, or have had extensive years in football. They will direct under a new head of football development and probably a director of football. We’re very lucky in that in our club legends we have some serious football men who, if you saw them in half, they’re Tigers through and through.
You’ve got brilliant people like Cav (Paul Cavell), Ronnie Glavin who are buying into this new vision.
At every match we have legends and that must say something.
Our role is to make sure the club underpins them and the coaching philosophy continues.
The nitty gritty of who plays where, we’re not going to be owners like that saying we don’t like that player, get rid of him, nothing like that.
We’ll have football advisors outside the club who can just guide us whenever we need that bit of guidance.
WG: Who will have the final say on day to day decisions?
PW: On a day to day basis it would be me, as the managing director.