Read the thoughts of the Chairman ahead of today's fixture with PrestonGood afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, Girls and Boys and welcome back to Priestfield for this afternoon’s contest against our good friends from the North West, Preston North End. On behalf of everyone connected to the Club I’d like to welcome the directors, players, staff and supporters to Medway and, result apart, hope they have a pleasant stay. There is much history and rivalry between our Clubs and I expect this to continue today as we attempt to reform our season under the guidance of new interim manager Peter Taylor, who joined us on Tuesday after the contract of Martin Allen was terminated.
As Chairman of this football club, I carry a heavy responsibility to all our stakeholders to not only ensure the smooth functionality and stability of the business behind the scenes, but to try and ensure the Club enjoys relative success and consistency, as often as possible, on the field of play. In dispensing with my duties and the trust placed in me to so do, and in the making of decisions, I am obviously able to take into account many factors of the business that are not always available, for one reason or another, to the general public, nor in some instances should such matters be placed in the general domain. That is not to say there are necessarily any underhand or devious reasons why such information should not be shared, more so they may be matters of confidence or instances whereby they are of internal significance only, and therefore should remain ‘in house’.
One of the problems with high profile businesses, and football clearly has its fair share of media exposure, is that in general terms the paying public appear to be always looking for explanations, scandal, sensationalism, inside information etc, rather than just accepting that in all instances decisions are made in the best interests of an organization, sometimes without the above factors being involved. Whilst I understand this need for explanation, it is not always a black and white situation, not always possible or acceptable for full explanation for a variety of reasons.
In the case of Martin Allen, I have already gone on record as saying that to terminate his contract at this time was the hardest decision I have had to make in 18 years as your Chairman, not just because he was a friend, but because he was a presence about the Club and had done a great job last season in gaining us promotion, something we will all always be grateful of.
Sadly, however, we don’t work in the past, in football we work in the present and given a number of factors, one of which was our form over the last six football months, ie the last quarter of last season and the first quarter of this season and my view that a number of our players with clear potential were not performing at the levels I feel they are capable of, and given I couldn’t really see where the change was going to come from, the decision was made now as I saw no benefit in waiting longer, in fact to wait longer may well have caused us further problems.
I fully accept the view that all the reasons for my decision could have changed in the future months, if he’d had longer the results may have changed, but as I’ve already stated my decision was made based on a number of factors and I am absolutely confident the correct decision was made in this instance.
It took less than four minutes from the news breaking for the first CV to hit my inbox and at time of writing I have received over 44 CV’s, many from candidates of impeccable record, which is quite flattering and indeed a compliment to everyone involved with the club.
It became obvious almost immediately that the process to engage a suitable replacement was going to take some time hence my call to Peter Taylor on Monday afternoon to enquire whether he would come in on an interim manager basis to give a different voice, leadership, alternative perspective and another focus to the players and coaching staff. Peter was fortunately available to work and after some short consideration he called me to accept the role. Having worked with Peter 13 years ago, and enjoyed a successful season which saw us reach the Championship for the first time in the Club’s long history, I have always remained in contact as friends and I know the team and Club will be in safe hands during his tenure, allowing me the time to evaluate the next step forward.
Peter has subsequently told me he would also like to be considered for the role on a longer term basis, so that makes 45 candidates to consider now, with one potential candidate helping out in the short term. I did consider waiting the 4 or 5 weeks it would take to go through interview and recruitment procedures, but given Peter’s availability and passion for the Club, and my knowledge of his ability and personality, it was a win win situation bringing him in immediately, especially given the run of games coming up over the coming weeks. John Schofield will remain as number 2 and all other members of the backroom staff remain as present.
There is always much concern and rhetoric when a managerial change is made, some fair and considered, some less considered, and some quite deplorable. All I am able to say is that I take the responsibility of running this football club very seriously, and I undertake my duties to the best of my ability. Unfortunately as part of my brief I have to make tough decisions at times, I have to do a lot of the dirty work that no one else wants to do, I’m in the firing line when things don’t go right, my head is always above the line, but I am perfectly happy in my own mind that every decision I make, at all times, is made with the best interests of this football club in mind, and that is a matter on which supporters must trust and judge me, even if on occasions I am not able or prepared to go into or share all the rationale behind those decisions. When I came to this Club in 1995 I always stated, as indeed I state now, that if at any time the majority of supporters at this Club felt they didn’t want me here as Chairman and owner, then I would immediately begin the process to allow someone else to take the mantle. That remains the case now, and indeed will remain the case in the future as it well should, but until that time I will continue to fight for a better tomorrow, will keep dodging the bullets and will keep looking for ways of improving our long term viability.
What is now of significantly more importance is how our season ahead progresses. I have already said we have a very talented, capable and together playing squad at this club. They are a pleasure to be around, not a bad apple in the box, of great spirit and determination. They too are not happy with our season thus far and they will be trying hard to a man to put a run of wins together, hopefully starting today. I liken them in spirit, character and potential to the team of 2000, and if they achieve anywhere near the highs of that year they will for sure be in the record books of this great club forever and a day.
The rest now comes down to all of us that support the Club. In my circular three weeks ago I asked for your positive support before the Bradford game, and to a man you turned up and gave your all. We didn’t get the result we wanted that day but your effort was magnificent and the players were really grateful. The noise in the stadium was electric. We are all in this battle together, we are going to face our challenges full on, shoulder to shoulder so please welcome Peter Taylor as your new interim manager and give him and the boys your every support. You won’t be disappointed.
Thanks for coming today and as always lets make Priestfield rock
Up The Gills
Paul D. P. Scally