Erith & Belvedere begin search for investors as manager Owen Jones steps down as his £450 per week budget cannot compete with rival club's
OWEN JONES has revealed a budget cut and not being able to compete with richer rival club's has forced him to resign as the manager of struggling Erith & Belvedere.
The Deres are sitting in the bottom three of the Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table, having collected four wins and seven draws from their 22 league outings and suffered a 3-0 home defeat to fourth-placed Hollands & Blair yesterday.
Jones sealed promotion after finishing runners-up to Welling Town last season and also celebrated winning the London Senior Trophy and Hospitals Charity Cup.
Erith & Belvedere have always run with a tiny budget compared to their Premier Division rivals and in a time when even non-contracted players in the division have agents, Jones admits it’s time to step aside.
The Welling-based club have recently announced an upheaval in the boardroom at Park View Road with chairman Micky Cooper stepping down and leaving the club on Friday 17 January, former chairman John McFadden is now club president while Brian Spurrell steadies the ship as interim chairman while the club searches for new investors.
Bill Hollins has retired after more than 30 years as a club director, most of them as club secretary.
“It’s not rocket science, you know what’s been going on, there’s been some problems, some in-house problems and two board members have left. John McFadden said he is the president and they’ve cut the wages and they’ve been interviewing people to come in (as chairman),” said Jones.
“I’m not safe or secure because whoever comes in might want to do it their own way. Nobody’s telling me anything!
“Micky Cooper left because it’s been run in a way for so many years that’s not what I would say is as professional as it should be.
“It’s not just the board. I’m under no illusions. I knew we weren’t strong enough really but you can only work with the budget that we had and for them to cut the budget has made it even more difficult as well.
“Obviously, I don’t think anybody could match what we did last year and the way we did it, just coming in with weeks to get a team in and on a budget of £300 per week. We won two cups and won promotion and we done really well.
“The budget went up a little bit more. It wasn’t much. It wasn’t £700 or £800 that everybody thought we was on. It was only £450 or something.
“I basically kept the same sort of side but every time I tried to get a player in they wanted big money and I couldn’t compete with that.
“The money side of it has caused problems. I don’t see why club’s have wage bills of £1,000 or £1,500 or £2,000, I think it’s ridiculous at this level.
“There’s a lot of mercenaries out there and the youngsters are the ones that are suffering but I think it’s ruining a really good league.
“If players really want to play for big money, why don’t they play at the highest level and this is not the highest level. If they want £150-£200, why don’t you go to a higher league but you’re not good enough and players think it’s easy to get the money and that’s what they do and they don’t care, they really don’t care!
“Look, if offers come, I’m not putting myself in the shop window, if an offer comes, I’ll seriously look at it.
“I just think when club’s go up to Step Five, they have to be more structured and tailored.
“I haven’t got a problem with managing at Step Five or Step Six, there’s not much difference. The only difference is the top 10 teams have got money but other than that the standard’s not much different really.
“If you play the top six teams, your Beckenham’s, Chatham’s, Glebe’s and Sheppey, all those sides are the ones that have got the money, maybe do a Super League, I don’t know.
“I’m not saying that players’ shouldn’t get paid. I do believe you should get a bit of petrol money and expenses.
“I mean a lot of club’s are cutting the money because they really can’t afford it, after so many months if they’re not going to win the league or there or there abouts with it, they cut their budget and players leave. I just think it’s just a farce. It’s been going on like that for a few seasons.
“One thing I would do, I would structure the youngsters, who don’t seem to be paid. In our side we try to give some of the youngsters, the 16-17 year-olds £20 to get the experience. We wouldn’t be giving them £50, £100 or £120.
“I’ve had a great time at Erith & Belvedere and I thank everybody but the truth of it the whole structure of the club hasn’t been, what I would say, up to scratch.
“I don’t know whether that’s because the old way or it needs a new way but I’m not saying that it’s all their fault. The players and myself, we have to take responsibility as well.
“I think I’ve done a good job from when I first took over right up to this point.
“I’ve always believed we would never get relegated and I still believe that because the players are good enough!
“I’ve done as much as I can do and I don’t really want to carry it on until the end of the season.
“The president now is looking at new investors or new people to come in and take over as chairman and put money in.
“I can’t be waiting around. They might not want me. If they wanted me, they’ll sit me down interviewing people (at boardroom level). They’ve been interviewing people why didn’t they say we want you to sit with us? That didn’t happen so I’ve got to be looking after myself.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time and there’s no bad feelings. At the end of the day it’s only football, there’s more to life. It should be a time of enjoyment and fun.”
A club statement said: “Due to resignation and retirement, Erith & Belvedere FC has vacancies for three club directors. Please email the chairman Brian Spurrell at email@example.com with a brief note on your background and interest in joining the board.”
Erith & Belvedere welcome 12th-placed Lordswood to Park View Road next Saturday, 1 February (15:00).
Visit Erith & Belvedere’s website: www.erithandbelvederefc.clubbuzz.co.uk