There is so much more than just a first team at St Neots Town FC, says new owner and chairman
- Credit: Archant
He might be more at home on a fairway than a football pitch, but Lee Kearns is relishing the challenge of masterminding a bright future for St Neots Town.
Kearns is a golf professional turned owner and chairman of a non-league club after assuming control of Saints from father, Mike, before Christmas.
He isn’t a total stranger to football after spending the last four-and-a-half years as the club’s managing director, but he believes his lack of a long-term background in the sport can actually be an advantage rather than a hindrance.
“I didn’t even know St Neots had a football club until my father got involved,” admitted Kearns. “But the fact I have not previously been involved in the game actually helps me to look at things from my own perspective.
“The first thing that struck me when I joined was the fact there wasn’t an awful lot going on.
“We can’t just view St Neots Town as a football club. It is a multi-sports venue which we can develop.
“It is vital we offer things people are interested in, things they want to invest their time and money in, and provide the right environment for them to do that.
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“We’re now in a position where things we have in place are starting to work and where we can drive forward more projects.
“It is essential we explore new avenues for the long-term stability because non-league football is quite simply not viable without them.
“Whatever we have in place in one year, we have to have more the following year to ensure we continue growing as a club.”
There is plenty going on at the Premier Plus Stadium these days – not just on a Saturday afternoon.
St Neots now boast a Learning & Sports Academy which sees 37 youngsters in education at the club, while an Elite Academy, aimed at developing high-class footballers in partnership with Stevenage FC, is to be launched later this year.
The club’s junior academy is also blossoming with several more teams to be added next season while there are two video-game themed rooms available for children’s parties.
Kearns is also keen to forge links with other senior clubs in the area.
He added: “It is not all about the first team here at St Neots. It is about the whole club and we will be constantly reviewing each area of it to ensure we keep on improving.
“We have our Elite Academy starting later this year which we are very keen to shout about, and we’re also very proud of our St Neots Learning & Sports Academy.
“We have what we feel is the best education package available to youngsters through our partnership with the Longsands and Ernulf academies, and we are already looking into the possibility of expanding this part of our business across other sports.
“We would also like to work more closely with other football clubs. We have spoken to Eynesbury Rovers and we’re hopeful of becoming development partners with them.
“It is not about a club like Eynesbury solely being an asset to St Neots Town – we want to create a mutually beneficial arrangement that suits both parties equally.
“Of course we want to create our own young players, but we also want to be in a position to give other clubs the chance to use them if we feel they will benefit from gaining experience at Step 5 level.
“We’ve got a couple of lads out doing that currently.”