We want to take the club as far as it can go and improve year on year - we would like to be challenging for promotion this season, says Kent United chairman Matt Purser
KENT UNITED chairman Matt Purser has explained the reasons behind why the club has taken over Red Velvet’s place in the Kent County League Premier Division this season.
Red Velvet’s name was included in the League constitution on 21 June 2023, but it has since transpired that Kent United will be playing at the Glentworth Club, Lowfield Street in Dartford, the ground of former Southern Counties East Football League First Division side Kent Football United.
“It’s always been my dream to be heavily involved with a football club, being a supporter all my life,” said Purser, 51.
“I wasn’t actively looking but the opportunity presented itself as the current owners were looking to sell and I was excited to get involved.
“The club has great assets and facilities to comply with Step Four of the non-league pyramid.
“There is a shortage of clubs with the facilities in the area so I knew we could grow the club and allow use of these facilities for the wider community.”
Ian Jenkins, who was Red Velvet’s manager last season, remains boss and will be assisted with Mark Tompkins.
“Ian and Mark are established and have great experience at this and higher levels in the non-league pyramid. Given their experience, ambition and connections, it was an easy decision,” added Purser.
Purser was asked about Kent United taking over Red Velvet’s position in the eleventh-tier of English football.
“Having a men’s team as part of the club was very important and we had the chance to acquire Red Velvet,” said Purser.
“The whole team of Red Velvet were aligned with our ambitions so we decided to acquire the club.
“It was important that the youth teams had the same name so everyone felt they were part of one club so Red Velvet’s name was changed to Kent United.”
Purser revealed Jenkins will be working without a playing budget but is likely to be handed one should they win promotion into the First Division of the Southern Counties East Football League.
He said: “The players, coaches, manager’s and management team have similar aspirations. We want to take the club as far as it can go and improve year on year. We would like to be challenging for promotion this season.
“We are not setting a playing budget for this season but we expect to set one for the 2024-25 season. The size of the budget will depend on what division we are in.”
When asked about his own personal background, Purser revealed: “I’m 51. I left school at 16 with six GCSE’s and worked for Natwest and the Civil Aviation Authority until I was 33. I then decided to set up a consultancy business and ran that along with two other businesses in the travel sector which grew from start-ups to businesses turning over several millions until October, when I sold the three businesses.
“I now run another consultancy business, which I started last year and also work with travel businesses on their strategy to grow and eventually exit their businesses through selling.
“I have also bought and sold property over the last 20 years. My wife and I are from Kent and now live in south-east London. The two of us and our two boys also love to travel, so do so whenever possible.”
Kent United face a challenge to attract fans to Lowfield Road for their games, especially with National League South side Dartford on their doorstep.
Kent Football United regularly struggled to attract crowds of 100 to their home games, although they did run a well-supported Women’s team in the National League.
“We want to be a club for everyone in Kent irrespective of your background. Everyone is welcome and we want everyone to feel part and proud of the club,” said Purser.
“We are working with street soccer foundation to allow everyone to have access to the club and its facilities.
“Our first home league game on Monday 28 August against Peckham Town will be free entry and the chance to play games and enter competitions for adults and children. Even if you are not a huge football fan, it will still be fun for all the family.
“We are starting out but the journey is going to be fun. We want as many people as possible from Kent to join us on the journey.
“This season has been about establishing the men’s team and growing the number of youth teams and we will have 13 for this season but for the 2024-25 season, we will bring back women’s football too.
“We want everyone to feel part of one club so all teams will play in the same kit with the same sponsor. We will hold club nights and every team will be supported.
“Every team and every person is very important to us and we want everyone to feel welcomed and included.”
Kent United kick-off their league campaign away to Cuxton 1991 tomorrow (14:45).
Visit Kent United's website: www.kentunitedfc.co.uk