Alfreton Town forced to revert to part-time status with budget cut

Alfreton Town chairman Wayne Bradley remains totally positive about the future of the club, despite taking a ‘tough decision’ to take the club back to part-time operations and reduce the playing wage bill by 25 per cent.

The Reds chief insists the changes will not harm future planning.

He said: “We have no debts, no borrowing and no issues. We are not looking to throw the towel in, we are not down-sizing, we are reshaping, planning for many years to come.

“The club is in very good shape and we are not about to put it in any danger. We are looking to ‘re-invent’ the club in a way which will allow us to accept the challenge of the division.

“Our fans should know by now that we say what we are going to do and stick to it. They are not easy decisions, but the earlier they are made the better.”

The Reds supremo admits non-League football’s highest tier is a tough and unforgiving one.

He added; “Two years ago the club engineered its way into the Conference Premier Division and were caught out by the sheer consistency of the division. It is by the far the toughest, most consistent division we have ever been in.

“That consistency comes from the better training facilities, discipline and quality of player at other clubs.

“We went into last season with other additions to a squad which had done exceptionally well to stay up in the first season and we managed to achieve 60 points and miraculously finish 13th this time.

“To even mirror that next season we would have to spend a considerable amount of money on the calibre and quality of player just to improve consistency, and we have had to ask ourselves, where is the extra finance going to come from?”

The Reds chairman felt there was no realistic alternative to reverting back to part-time.

“We could have turned a blind eye and carried on as we are which would have been naive and irresponsible; we could have looked to generate income – which is sensible – but you cannot plan with that scenario which is also irresponsible and foolish. In the end we chose to assess the last two seasons’ work and spend what we can afford.

“We have to shorten the base, we cannot afford full-time football at the club at the moment and we have to remind ourselves that once again, the ultimate aim next season will be to finish at least fifth from the bottom of the table.

“We do not intend to increase either the prices of match day admission or season tickets. Moreover, we will be looking to make it as easy as we can through other offers for our fans to get in at cheaper prices.

“I urge the fans to take up their season tickets again and support the club.

“It has to be a straight-forward balancing act, but with careful planning and a lot of hard work, we can make it happen.”

Meanwhile, Bradley could not hide his delight that manager Nicky Law has chosen to stay on with the club.

“We have retained a manager whose nous and eye for bringing in talent is possibly worth four places in the league table to us each season” he said.

“He could have walked away after the announcements. But I am absolutely delighted Nicky has vowed to stay and take up the challenge of building us a squad to compete in the division next season.

“The manager is enthused by things we are looking to introduce including fitness and performance analysation, and that is something we will be looking to recruit on that side. Fans have no need to fear reduced performances.

“Will we be as fit as the last two seasons? Yes, I would like to think so.

“We are still ambitious and have a good desire for the future. The only thing to make the difference will be the support levels.

“Do I think we will be in the division again this time next year? Yes I do,” ended the Reds chairman.

Manager Law admits it is going to be even tougher next season after having his budget cut, but is ready for the challenge.

He explained: “I have had a meeting with the chairman and the budget is going to be reduced so we may not be able to keep all of the players, who knows?

“We are going to be up against it from now. We are going to have a fight to keep our players because they are all going to have to take a reduction in pay. That is how it is and that is what we will do.

“We will have to see what next season brings. I have got four U24s out of contract and seven other first team players out of contract, so the first thing I have got to do is to get a team that will be competitive at this level.

“We are not even thinking about where we will finish next year. I have got a job on now of trying to keep the players that we can and obviously introduce other players into the bigger picture.

“But, one thing I can promise the fans, is that we will all be in this together again. I am definitely not a quitter, and I ready for the challenge of putting a squad together which can compete at this level.”

Alfreton Town brought the curtain down on the 2012/13 season with a home 2-1 win over Forest Green Rovers, which was the Gloucestershire side’s fifth straight defeat, on Saturday.

Josh Law and Nathan Arnold scored the goals that ensured the Reds finished 14th with 60 points, which was one place and six points better than their inaugural season as well as finishing 10 points clear of the relegation zone.

It is also a mark of Alfreton’s progress that three of the five teams that joined the Blue Square Bet Premier alongside them at the beginning of last season have been relegated.

Those teams were Stockport County who had come down from League Two, Ebbsfleet United from Conference South and AFC Telford United, who had been promoted with the Reds from Conference North.

Alfreton finished above Lincoln City for the second time, the Imps having also come down from League Two, but 2010/11 Conference South champions Braintree Town fared better on both occasions.

It was also a measure of huge improvement by the Reds that both results against Forest Green Rovers had seen last term’s 6-1 home defeat and 4-1 away setback overturned, having earlier drawn 1-1 at the New Lawn.

Perhaps even more remarkable was an increased attendance of 73 on what had been only Alfreton’s second home game at the pinnacle of the non-League pyramid when the two sides had met at the Impact Arena in August 2011.

Post match celebrations and awards included the presentation of the Manager’s Player of the Season to Nathan Arnold, the Players’ Player of the Season for Paul Clayton and the Supporters’ Player of the Season, which went to Josh Law.