Tuesday 25th May 2004

Kinnear 'devastated' by demotion

MARGATE boss Chris Kinnear is set to stay despite being "totally devastated" by the club's self-imposed demotion to Conference South, writes Andrew Gidley.

Kinnear attended last week's Emergency General Meeting in his role as a shareholder, but abstained from voting as members decided in favour of option D - to accept demotion to Conference South and return to Hartsdown Park in a reduced-facility stadium.

Kinnear said: "This is the lowest point of my football career. It happened when I was in charge at Dover and we couldn't go up from the Dr Martens League to the Conference because the ground wasn't up to specification, so it's hit me twice now."

Kinnear was recently linked with the vacant job at his home town club Dagenham when Garry Hill left. But the Margate boss said: "I have never thought about quitting. I have been trying to prepare myself for the news, but I have to say it shook me.

"We have finished eighth, 10th and now 16th, and the players have been brilliant, considering all the unbelievable financial problems the club has had. I will have to speak to them all in the next week or so."

Kinnear has already seen skipper Graham Porter and vice-captain Jay Saunders join Kent rivals Gravesend and Northfleet, and others may follow, but Kinnear hopes there will not be a mass exodus.

After the meeting the club issued the following statement: "The members of Margate Football Club Ltd, at an EGM called specifically to determine the immediate future of the club, voted by an overwhelming majority in favour of proposed option D.

"Members were keen to see their football club return to Hartsdown Park and were prepared to concede full Conference status in order to do so.

"The view of the members was then referred to the club directors who ratified the view of the members, thus confirming that Margate will accept demotion to Conference South returning to Hartsdown Park before
the turn of the year."

Looking ahead, Kinnear said: "It seems a waste of time that we have to go down.

"The ground is going to be built, and it will be fantastic. Dover and Margate were both being watched by crowds of 200 when I took over. I think gates will drop dramatically, even though we are going home."

Kinnear hopes to retain assistant manager Kevin Raine and first team coach Phil Handford, but admitted: "I don't know what my budget will be yet. We will be up against clubs like Hornchurch and Weymouth, but I even looked at who else is there."

Margate's only Kent derby will be against Welling United, with visits to Newport County, Weston-super-Mare and Weymouth their longest trips of the season.

The club's plight has also seen Margate Supporters' Association being pushed aside.

And whilst the group are no longer recognised by the club, rival organisation, the newly-formed Independent Supporters' Association, are now favoured by the board.

New MSA chairman Dave Cox, a supporter for 36 years who replaced Ian Day, said: "It was viewed that we were trying to run the club, which wasn't the case.

"After the meeting on January 15 we were concerned that due to a lack of information, Margate Football Club might not finish the season, or have a future.

"We spoke to the council twice, but each time notified the club about what we were doing. There used to be daily contact between us, but now there is nothing."

He added: "I think the news about going into Conference South was inevitable, and I had been expecting it for a long time."

The rival organisation is headed by John Cooper, who ran the London Marathon last month in order to raise funds for the club.

Margate's demotion will be confirmed at the Conference AGM in Eastbourne on June 5.

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