We’re coming up to the halfway stage of the league campaign, are you happy with things so far?
Yes, I’m very happy with where we are at this stage and I think credit for that needs to go Neil, Lee and the two Kenny’s for putting together a good team together using local talent.
How big a blow was it to lose Neil Baker?
I can’t deny it was a big blow for me and also for Lee Casswell who was learning a lot from him. He is still very much on the scene though, he is still a director of the club and is still involved in an advisory role and helps out with training sessions when his time permits. It’s on match days when his positive presence is really missed - not being in the dugout.
But you’re right behind the management team we have in place?
Absolutely, when Neil left our preference was for continuity and for Lee and his team to carry on the good work where Bake left off. I have 100% faith in them and Neil is also available at the end of the phone if they need any help or advice. I would like to see us make the play-offs this season, I certainly think we have the capability to achieve that.
Are you concerned about our ability to hang to our players such as Matt Haddrell?
No, not at all. Matt’s still here and we’re doing well, why would players want to leave? The players are being looked after here, but if any did want to go we wouldn’t stand in their way, we want players here who first and foremost want to play for Leek Town.
So, how is the financial situation at the club?
It’s fairly good, you could always do with more money but we are doing ok this season. We have no financial problems, picking up over £11,000 in FA prize money was a big help, but we don’t budget for winning anything so that was a bonus! We have a number of local businessmen helping us out and I’ve been very happy with the gates, I think we’re averaging about 350, which is a fantastic increase on last season.
One local businessman whose name has cropped up on the LTFC website forum is ‘Rambo’, what’s the situation with him and his ‘box’?
Quite simply, the ‘box’ he was using is not licensed to serve alcohol and as our stadium is deemed a ‘designated ground’, we could face a fine of up to £50000 for doing so. Therefore we had to tell him that he couldn’t serve alcohol in there.
What, if anything, is happening with the proposed ground developments as we don’t seem to have heard much about the pitch and perimeter fence lately?
Well firstly I would point out that we have already this season built the new toilet block for the Social Club as well as redecorating the club house itself and a big thank you needs to go to Neil and Lee for organising this and the members of the Community Payback team.
With regard to the perimeter fencing that has recently gone out to tender, it’s taken some time to sort out all the grants and funding for this with all the various parties involved, but I’m confident it will go ahead and hopeful that work might start on that before the season is out because we are also looking at doing the pitch upgrade in the close season. Ideally, I’d like to think everything would be done for the start of next season but they will mean we can’t have any home pre-season friendlies, so we have to ensure the financial side of things is right.
What about the Junior teams? We seem to have a fantastic set-up there are you happy with how that’s progressing?
I agree, it’s been a magnificent effort by all concerned and particularly by Dennis Bates, Tracy Reynolds and all of the managers, coaches and officials involved in the teams. To think we’ve come from just one team two seasons ago to now having nineteen is an absolutely tremendous achievement. We achieved Charter Standard last year but we are certainly not resting on our laurels, we want to go for Community Standard and we are looking at adding girls teams and disability teams. We want the club to be involved in all aspects of the community.
You’ve talked about this season, what about your longer-term ambitions?
Simple really, I want to get the club out of this division. Success on the pitch has to be earned and we have no divine right to promotion, but this club has been playing at this level for too long and I genuinely believe with our facilities and fan base that we are a Premier Division side. We would be more stretched financially in that division, but I think increased gates and interest would mean we could compete.
Finally, anything else you’d like to add?
Yes, I’d just like to say we have amazing supporters at this club and without them there would be no club. They pay their money and it’s their prerogative to get on my or the board’s back if things aren’t going well but I would like to say a big thank to them for their continued support and in return we as a Board will do our best to push the club forward. I’d also like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and look forward to their continued support in 2012.