Once our relegation to Sky Bet League Two was confirmed on Saturday 14th April, I immediately felt the need to pen an open letter to you, our loyal supporters, to simply say sorry for what has been an extremely disappointing campaign. I have now had time to calm down and collect my thoughts and reflect on the season.
Firstly, the Club has not deserved the levels of fantastic support received throughout the season. Both home and away the following has been phenomenal, so I can only thank you for that and assure you that it is and has been very much appreciated.
My apologies are delivered not only from myself but my Board of Directors and the current coaching staff. However, I am not willing to represent our playing staff who have let us all down, showing a distinct lack of desire and care throughout the season which is inexcusable. Our training facilities are as good as any other in League One and better than a number in the Championship. Our support to matchday preparation i.e. travel and accommodation has always been very thorough to ensure players are in the best physical state for the relevant game, but for some unknown reason, this just hasn’t worked.
An element of the season that I strongly regret is having had to use three Managers, which is unhealthy for any club. We started the season with Lee Clark who had joined the Club at the latter part of the 2016/17 season, with an initial remit to keep us in League One which he succeeded in doing, albeit on the last day. Unfortunately for Lee, the results that we were expecting, having invested heavily in the summer, didn’t materialise and we parted company.
After a short spell where Ryan Lowe took control, we appointed Chris Lucketti who was desperate to take on the role, and taking into consideration his desire and success with other clubs in League One as an assistant and his links with Bury FC, we, as a Board, thought it was a perfect fit. Unfortunately, we got it wrong, with hugely disappointing performances and results resulting in a need to change the coaching set-up again. I was thankful at the time to Ryan who was once again happy to take on the role but we needed to ‘steady the ship’ so he was re-appointed in the knowledge that we would not be reviewing the Manager’s position until the end of the season.
On players, I have to look in the mirror and ask myself whether I questioned the coaching staff enough on player acquisitions, but my intentions have and always will be, to back the First Team Manager. Like me, I know that you were all excited in July and August when we were announcing player signings and we were the envy of most League One managers, but on reflection our approach was wrong, and we did not carry out as much due diligence on some individuals as we needed to but those are both huge lessons learned.
However, I continue to be enthused by the performances of our Youth and Academy teams, who are either winning tournaments at their respective age levels against teams associated with FA Premier League clubs or performing excellently in prestigious competitions such as the FA Youth Cup.
It is with great pride when I see some of the individual performances being rewarded with First Team appearances for Saul Shotton, Callum Styles, Ryan Cooney and Joe Adams, which proves we must be doing some things right.
Off the field, we have also made mistakes during our tenure that we want to put right. We are going to go back to basics in a bid to win back your trust and support as my intention is to stay around to continue to financially support the Club, but we need your backing and positivity behind what we are doing whether it’s on or off the pitch. We are very active in the community but we haven’t been clear and open about what we are doing and we need to offer a product where businesses and individuals are proud to support their local club.
In conclusion, we have had a setback that has hit all of us very hard but we will bounce back with your support. We are going to approach things differently, there will be no overly ambitious quotes in summer from me, however, I will remain quietly confident we will be successful, I have to, or else there is no point being here.
Stick with us, support us, help us…together we are so much stronger.