Hoping for dawn of a new era
A NEW era beckons at St Neots Town Football Club with the installation of Bob Bridges as the club s new chairman. Mr Bridges, 60, succeeds Bob Page as club chairman and has issued a rallying cry to the people of St Neots to come and support the club – and
A NEW era beckons at St Neots Town Football Club with the installation of Bob Bridges as the club's new chairman.
Mr Bridges, 60, succeeds Bob Page as club chairman and has issued a rallying cry to the people of St Neots to come and support the club - and also made his on the field intentions clear.
He said: "This club has been stagnant for too long and it is time that we start moving forwards. We have the potential to be playing at a far higher level than we currently are and that has to be our goal."
Former chairman Mr Page, who was at the club's helm for more than 10 years, is no longer involved with day-to-day running of the club. As of the end of December Mr Bridges and his associates now own the controlling stake of shares in St Neots.
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Saints currently lie second from bottom of the United Counties League Premier Division - their lowest position for more than 10 years - and must avoid finishing in the bottom two to be sure of avoiding the drop.
Recent Football Association changes with regard to ground facilities mean that this season more clubs will be eligible for promotion from the UCL first division.
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That means St Neots need to stay out of the division's bottom two places to be certain of retaining their UCL Premier status for next season.
Therefore, Mr Bridges insists, it is vital that the club improves its on-field performances, something which he hopes added stability off the field will help to achieve.
In recent weeks the club has been unable to pay its players and manager Steve Young admitted there had been an impact on the side. He said: "Motivating players can be tricky when they are unsure if and when they will be paid and it does make the job harder.
"However, we are starting the new year afresh and I have the chairman's word of honour that the finances are in place so we can concentrate on moving the club away from the relegation zone."
Mr Bridges, a former vice-chairman of St Neots, said: "We are starting with a clean slate, we are fully behind the manager and the team and the players will be paid again from the beginning of January."
Next season St Neots are due to move to a brand new £2.5million stadium near to their current site at Rowley Park to the east of the town, and Mr Bridges insists the move will not be affected by the boardroom changes at the club.
He said: "We are 100 per cent committed to our new home which will be built to Conference South standards and will be the envy of the league.
"The funding for the project is secure. It will attract players to the club and be the cornerstone on which St Neots Town's future is built."
The new stadium, which will feature three grandstands, is expected to be completed by early 2008.
Meanwhile, club stalwart John Walker has accepted the position of club president.
Mr Walker has been associated with the club for more than 40 years, and said he was fully behind the new regime.
He said: "It takes a lot of time and commitment to run a football club at any level and I have been impressed with the speed at which the new set-up has operated."
Other appointments under the new regime include Tina Thompson, who has accepted the position of honorary treasurer and Stuart Walters, who will work with Pete Naylor to liaise between the Saints and the developers of the club's new stadium.
Mr Bridges told The Hunts Post that he intends to stay in post only as long as is necessary and will be actively seeking further investment in the club.
He said: "It is my new year's resolution to keep everyone up to date with what is happening at their football club, from the youth set-up upwards so people can identify with, and feel a part of, their side.
"I want the people of the town to come along and support the club in 2007. I promise a friendly welcome and an enjoyable visit which I hope will encourage people to bring a friend.
"St Neots Town has a long and rich tradition - reaching the third round of the FA Cup in the 1960s - and we want to bring the glory days back."
* St Neots' next home game is at Rowley Park this Saturday against Boston Town, kick off 3pm.