We need to demonstrate that we can operate as a self-sufficient football club, maintaining our full-time status with the drive and ambition to push into the Football League, says Bromley chairman Jerry Dolke
BROMLEY chairman Jerry Dolke says installing an artificial pitch at Hayes Lane will make the club more self-efficient as he targets promotion into the Football League.
The Ravens host their Premier League neighbours Crystal Palace in their only home pre-season friendly on Saturday, which marks the start of the clubs 125th anniversary.
Jerry Dolke: Bromley chairman
and on the pitch playing for his
On the pitch, manager Neil Smith guided the club to a personal best finish in the top-ten in the Vanarama National League last season and hopes are high ahead of their third campaign dining at non-league’s top table.
Mr Dolke, took over the running of the family owned painting and decorating supplier in Greenwich at the age of 21, following the passing of his father, which he continued to run up until getting involved at the then struggling Isthmian League Division One club.
“I was aware of the main stand fire (in 1993) and the struggles that the club were going through and Glyn Berverly, the then chairman, asked me to get involved in 2000-01,” Mr Dolke told www.bromleyfc.tv.
“My main objective when I took the club on was twofold; to return the club to the playing level that I had been a part of in the late 80s, two levels above where we were currently sitting, a club of our stature should not have been at that level and secondly to get the freehold of the stadium back delivering the club the security it once had.
“A London Senior Cup win in 2003 followed by two promotions in 2005 and 2007 plus the purchase of the freehold in 2007 were great achievements.”
Bromley have come a long way since Mr Dolke took over and claimed their first title in 54 years when then manager Mark Goldberg (with Smith being his assistant) claimed the Conference South title in April 2015.
The club have today made their intentions known this season with an interview with their directors being published on the club website.
Bromley will be playing their home games on an artificial pitch as from Saturday, which will bring revenue to the club during the entire week.
“It’s important that the club can become self-sufficient,” said Mr Dolke.
“I think great progress has been made in the past 18 months with the ongoing growth of the Academy and upgrade of facilities at Hayes Lane, most notably the FIFA Quality Pro 3G pitch.”
Mr Dolke owns 35.3% of the shares at the club, while Jon Plassard (29.5%), Robin Stanton-Gleaves (29.5%) and David Waller (5.7%) own stakes in the club.
“We all work together very closely, the progress in the last 18 months has been brilliant to see,” added Mr Dolke.
“We need to demonstrate that we can operate as a self-sufficient football club, maintaining our full-time status with the drive and ambition to push into the Football League.
“When we got into the Conference South (in 2007) our principle target was to become an established club at that level, to then push on and become a promotion candidate.
“We need to replicate that model in the level we are playing at now and with the group of directors and staff working tirelessly behind the scenes, we can push on again.
“I see a real energy and desire to be successful from the group of people around us, from the directors, the playing staff and management.
“To see the fantastic response in season ticket sales (selling at least 400) and that supporters are buying into what we are trying to achieve, is a real positive sign.
“I’d like to thank all our supporters, especially those who have been there from day one when we travelled to games in the Ryman Division One South and to still see those faces travelling to the likes of Tranmere Rovers and Wrexham is testimony of where the club is now playing its football.”
Mr Stanton-Gleaves, director and chairman of the board, added: “I share an ambition with both Jerry and Jon that with the right mix of development, growth and financial decisions we can get the club into a position where it can stand on its own two feet.
“I do believe supporters should be aware that without regular monthly financial donations the club cannot operate in a solvent manner – and this must change!
“The three of us believe this is possible and have a plan to get to this position.
“The introduction of the new 3G pitch and planning permission of the new stand are just our first steps. With this plan we can then take our ambition on to the pitch full speed and make a genuine attempt to get into the Football League. This is where I believe Bromley FC can be and I have a personal objective to be part of the team to achieve this.
“Bromley FC and the town of Bromley deserve this and I believe can sustain this.
“We are very clear about our objectives and we want the club to deliver success on the pitch in a sustainable manner.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us but as I said before with the right mix of development, growth and financial decisions we can get the club into a position where it can stand on its own two feet and challenge for the Football League.”
Bromley have moved their Academy back to Hayes Lane and Academy director Mark Hammond has been tasked of producing home-grown talent.
Mr Stanton-Gleaves added: “I believe the rebirth of the Academy last year and the growth of it this year is part of the firm foundations of the future of the club.
“This profiles our club to the younger generation as well as helping us to develop our own talent. We must widen the appeal of the club and our Academy to help attract more players and supporters at this influential age.
“With the Academy being based at Hayes Lane and the development of office space under the new stand, the plan is to create a community hub at Hayes Lane and this will allow other daytime activities to evolve, which in turn helps us open the doors of our club to many more people who can come and support us on match days.”
Mr Plassard is keen to attract more fans to Hayes Lane as the Ravens look to build momentum.
“I was delighted when Jerry asked me to join him to help re-finance the club and to join the board just prior to winning the Conference South title in 2015,” he said.
“At that time, there was a fair bit of uncertainty around the club’s future but Jerry’s enthusiasm and vision convinced me that with the right team off the pitch and with a sensible long-term plan the club could flourish and fulfil its huge potential.
“I’m delighted with the progress the club has made. We expected last season to be quite challenging on and off the pitch as we transitioned to a long-term plan of infrastructure investment into the facilities, Academy and off-pitch revenues with the objective that this can then feedback into sustainable investment into the playing squad.
“During this transition, to finish 10th in the highest League the club has played at and to make significant progress with the new pitch and then getting planning permission for the South Stand, I think we can look back at last season as a real success and a strong foundation for where we want to get to.
“Huge credit should be given to Neil Smith and his team for steering us successfully through what could have been a tricky season. The recent exciting signings for the first team and the development of the club’s Academy prove that Bromley FC is a club that young talented players want to be associated with.
“We want to get to a position where our local profile is raised leading to increased attendances and our off-pitch revenue streams continue to increase.
“More importantly, we need to achieve success on the pitch, which in itself will lead to increased attendances and other revenue opportunities.
“I think we have a fantastic group of supporters and I thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie of away trips and seeing all the familiar faces around the country.
“I think our supporters have built up a wonderful reputation in the National League and I really think our fan base can grow. I know that the supporters do spread the word with their friends and colleagues so please keep on doing this.
“Finally, thank you for your support and loyalty. I’m convinced that the club is heading in the right direction and with record season ticket sales this year, it’s pleasing to know the supporters and backing Neil and the team.”
Bromley kick-off their third Vanarama National League campaign at Hayes Lane against Eastleigh on Saturday 5 August (15:00).
Smith then takes his side to Dover Athletic (8 August) and Macclesfield Town (12 August), before relegated Leyton Orient, who visit Hayes Lane for the first time in a League fixture, roll into town on Tuesday 19 August (19:45).
Visit Bromley’s website: www.bromleyfc.tv
Bromley v Crystal Palace
Saturday 29th July 2017
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF