Basically, the other day I was called into a meeting and told that two players had to be released because there was no money to pay them, says Gary Alexander
GARY ALEXANDER has revealed the reasons behind his shock departure from Greenwich Borough last night.
Alexander, 38, his assistant John Mackie and physio Huseyin Torgut all vacated the club despite being in fourth-place in the Bostik South table with 14 wins, 10 draws and four defeats and only five points behind leaders Lewes.
Greenwich Borough won 62, drew 18 and lost 23 of Alexander’s 103 games in charge of the club.
“Greenwich has been an enormous part of my life and I’m sad to be going, but a situation I didn’t expect has arisen and I have to stand by my principles,” Alexander said in an interview for the Bostik League website www.isthmian.co.uk.
“I was told that I had to release players I’d signed - on the grounds of cost. Now it’s important that people realise that I’ve never had the kind of budget that has been talked about in the media and most of the backing stopped when my Chairman (Lord David Skinner) passed away in August 2016.
“We didn’t have a massive budget before that but we had a much smaller budget afterwards and in truth we’ve attracted players because of friendships and connections more than anything else - nobody has joined for the money, whatever the gossips may say. People joined us to be part of something special, to progress, rather than for any other reason.
“Basically, the other day I was called into a meeting and told that two players had to be released because there was no money to pay them. Now players come and go and I’m happy to make decisions for footballing reasons, but these lads have commitments and they signed for me, they believed in me and I gave them my word. That’s more important to me than anything else.
“I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself having effectively laid them off on the grounds of cost whilst I still remained employed.
“I’m not blaming the chairman (Perry Skinner), he’s a great person and will do everything he can for the club, but John and I should have known a lot sooner that the club was going to struggle.
“I can’t really answer questions about the future of the club, that’s something you’ll have to ask the chairman about, although what I can say is that he’ll do his very best to keep things going. I hope the club go on to be even more successful, and look forward to seeing them do that.
“I called the players' in for a meeting last night and their reaction brought tears to my eyes. I needed to look them in the eye and explain my decisions - it’s only right to talk to people face to face, to be honest, to give them the chance to ask their questions or say anything they want to say. They thought I was joking at first, but they soon realised that my loyalty was to them first and foremost.
“I can’t speak highly enough about the club but the situation financially should have been known about much earlier. We’ve been living in a bubble. But I can’t really talk any more about that, it wouldn’t be fair for me to try to answer questions better left for others.
“I’ve been in football all my life, I don’t know anything else. The phone has rung non-stop this morning, I didn’t know I had so many friends (!) - and I’m now a free agent.
“I want to get back into the game as soon as possible. I had offers to go and play tomorrow and I’m thinking about that seriously, as the idea that I’ll wake up on a Saturday morning with no football is painful. I started at nine years old and I'm not planning to stop now!
“But being honest I can still play at this level. I chose not to recently because I felt that, as a manager, I needed to let others play and concentrate solely on my job - but perhaps I haven’t scored my last goal after all. Football is a funny old game, I didn’t see my career moving on this way, but I’ve still got my boots and I still know where the goal is!”
Alexander has a 60% win ratio since taking over from Ian Jenkins in December 2015 and reflecting on his highlights at the club, he said: “Being given the chance to manage and to coach was an enormous highlight and a dream I’m not going to give up on.
“I’ve shown that I’m capable of getting results and with a promotion and a play-off semi-final place on my record I think I’ve done well and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I turned down the opportunity to get back into the professional game a few times whilst at Greenwich because I felt it was a great place for me to learn and it has been exactly that.
“And being successful whilst everyone else thought we were spending massive amounts of money but with the satisfaction of knowing that wasn’t the case, that was a highlight.
“We’ve all worked so hard, John, Huseyin, the players and the staff, the supporters and volunteers who have come in and helped, given up their time - it’s been an incredible journey. I’ve made mistakes and learned from them, and I’m a better man and a better manager for all of that.
“Everyone at the club has been wonderful to me and I’d like to thank them all - everyone who has been part of my Greenwich Borough footballing life. I’ve so many people at the club to be grateful to. They’ll always have a place in my heart and I leave with so many special memories.”
Greenwich Borough have confirmed that players Tom Carle and Liam Hickey and Torgut will take charge of the club’s trip to Hastings United tomorrow before a permanent successor is named early next week.
A club statement which was published on www.greeenwichboroughfc.co.uk also confirmed that central defender and club captain Mark Phillips and striker Charlie MacDonald have left the club.
“The club can confirm that they have reluctantly accepted the resignations of first team manager Gary Alexander and his assistant, John Mackie, due to the club’s current financial constraints.
“The board would like to thank Gary and John for their effort and commitment following their appointments in December 2015 and both will be remembered fondly due to their success at the club: winning promotion from the SCEFL in 2015/16 before qualifying for the Ryman South play-offs the following season, ultimately being defeated by Corinthian- Casuals in the semi-final stage.
“Tom Carlse, Liam Hickey and Huseyin Torgut will take charge of the Club’s trip to Hastings United tomorrow before a permanent successor is named early next week.
“ The Club can also confirm the departures of club captain Mark Phillips and forward Charlie MacDonald. We’d like to thank both for their service to the club and wish both well moving forward.”
Alexander, meanwhile, has agreed to sign for Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division side Chatham Town as a player after being approached by their manager James Collins.