As a board we are committed to Neil Smith and his management team and we have a squad of players that will compete to the level we achieved last year, says Bromley co-owner Robin Stanton-Gleaves
BROMLEY manager Neil Smith has been given the dreaded vote of confidence after a slow start to their fourth campaign in the Vanarama National League.
Last season Smith guided the Hayes Lane outfit to a personal best finish of ninth-place in non-league’s top flight and reached The Buildbase FA Trophy Final when they lost to Brackley Town on penalties on a heartbreaking day at Wembley Stadium in May.
The Ravens are currently sitting in seventeenth-place in the table with 14 points from as many games and are only three points clear of the relegation zone – but Smith and his squad have the attributes to start their rise up the table towards midtable safety in a very tough division.
Smith lost the services of several key personnel last season, most notably talisman Louis Dennis, who opted to sign a two-year contact at League One side Portsmouth, where he is playing for their second string.
Bromley co-owner Robin Stanton-Gleaves issued a statement on www.bromleyfc.tv yesterday.
“The start of the season has not been what all of us would have hoped for, but this is only with regard to the results on the pitch,” said Mr Stanton-Gleaves.
“We finished last season on an enormous high, with the highest league position the football club has ever achieved, and a wonderful FA Trophy run which allowed us all to enjoy a day out at Wembley, regardless of the result.
“Moving into this new season, we clearly have a hangover from those previous season successes and if we reflect maybe it is not too much of a surprise.
“During the close season, we said goodbye to important players; Louis Dennis moved on and earned a two-year contract at League One club Portsmouth. Brandon Hanlan and Josh Rees also moved on to League One with Gillingham and also both enjoyed two-year deals. These three players scored between them 39 goals – this is a lot to replace, but a great story to show player development at Bromley FC.
“Luke Woolfenden returned to Ipswich, unsettling the back four and added to this Ben Chorley and Tyrone Sterling, two solid players of our defence last year moved on to pastures new.
“These departures are a lot to replace and although the management team did their best in replacing them it takes time to find the right players and get them settling into the team and clearly we have not had the luck of this happening immediately.”
Smith previously revealed to this website that Bromley have a budget of a club in the lower half of the National League and it appears the powerhouses in the division are up in the north when it comes to big budgets.
Mr Stanton-Gleaves added: “It is also important to note that the standard in the National League has increased this year with the teams that have come into it and the money now being spent on the playing squads.
“There are at least 10 teams who are now playing with a League One/League Two playing budget and we have one team playing with a budget of a Championship side – we all know who they are (Salford City).
“I am proud that at Bromley we have stayed strong in committing to our long-term plan and financial security and therefore maintained a playing budget in line with last year with a slight increase.
“As a board, we are committed to Neil Smith and his management team and we believe that with some minor personnel changes and a bit more luck with injuries, then we have a squad of players that will compete to the level achieved last year.
“This season will be all about how we finish and not how started, which of course is a reverse on last year.”
Mr Stanton-Gleaves revealed there will be a delay of opening the new South Stand at Hayes Lane, which was expected to be open in early January.
He said: “Of the pitch, our plans continue to be exciting, albeit with some unfortunate delays on the new stand.
“On the eve of the cup final I announced the commencement of the new stand and the hope for it to be ready to use on January 1st. As you can all see the build is underway, albeit at the moment below ground level, so actually not a lot to see at present!
“Our building plan has got delayed and this was due to a number of reasons; commercial challenges in tendering for the work to be done and getting the best price and contractor for the club, discovering contaminated land that had to be excavated and negotiating with a possible partner for the space behind the stand. All of these have led to a delay and once we have agreed the new date then we will let you all know.”
Ex Academy goalkeeper Max Huxter made his National League debut last weekend, conceding a late goal as FC Halifax Town came away from Hayes Lane with a 2-2 draw. The club are keen to produce more players like Jack Holland, Jordan Higgs and Marc-Anthony Okoye to come through the ranks.
“The new season also heralded a new term at the Academy and I am pleased to say we now have over 200 students in class and on our training pitches during the week,” revealed Mr Stanton-Gleaves.
“This is testament to Mark Hammond, who leads the Academy, and the support we get from our partner Paul Murphy, the head of Ravensbourne School.
“In years ahead the success of the Academy will feed into home grown players, as well as success for them and the team on the pitch.
“Finally, I should comment on the financial stability of the club. In recent years we have all worked hard to find a business model that allows the club to operate and grow and not be dependent on a rich benefactor. This work is continuing successfully and last year’s accounts will show a remarkable turn on the previous years accounts and our aim is to continue this in the years ahead.
“The financial strength will give the club the stability it needs and with all the initiatives going on and fulfilling their potential the income into the club will grow and thereby the playing budget will increase, which will then allow Bromley FC to successfully compete at the next level of football.
“On behalf of the board, we are thankful for your continued support and ask you all to encourage friends and colleagues to join you at the club and enjoy the journey of Bromley FC as we continue to build for the future and our entrance into League Football.”
Bromley travel to fellow strugglers Maidstone United on Saturday. The Stones are one place lower than the Ravens on the same number of points.
Bromley are next at Hayes Lane on Saturday 13 October when Barrow are the visitors on Non-League Day. Adult admission prices have been reduced to £10 if they are purchased in advance, otherwise adult entrance tickets will still cost £18 on the day.
Visit Bromley’s website: www.bromleyfc.tv