It is an exciting time for everyone currently involved with Goole AFC at the moment with plans in place to help the club progress both on and off the field. Football Focus Magazine recently caught up with their Chairman Alan Wilson to find out more.
He told us, “I’ve been a supporter of the club for about seven years, having been attracted to it because it was my local club.
At the end of the 17-18 season the Chairman and Vice Chairman (the main shareholders) stood down. In order to move the club forward, the supporters formed a cooperative. I was elected Chairman.
Shortly after the formation of the Supporters Cooperative, the ex-chairman and ex Vice-chairman agreed to pass their shares over to a semi-local businessman for an agreed donation to the club. He then assumed overall control.
Because he wasn’t from Goole, he asked me, because of my local contacts to join him on the Board as Vice Chairman, which I did, after resigning as Chairman of the Supporter’s Cooperative.
Unfortunately, this didn’t last very long, because of his work commitments, he found he couldn’t continue, and on the 13/06/18 he resigned, leaving me as acting Chairman.
At our Supporter’s meeting on the 19th, we unanimously agreed to discard the “Board of Directors” concept and adopt the Supporters Cooperative as the main decision making body of the club. I was re-elected as Chairman.”
“The most rewarding aspect will be to see our ground opened up to the community as a whole. Goole AFC has for many years been just a one-team club, and never embraced local teams and local talent. Under our five year plan, we aim to successfully drive the club forward both on the field and off it. By building a hierarchy of teams and coaches, we hope to set a structure in place that ensures the total sustainability of the club for years to come.
The most challenging aspect is to persuade the people and community of Goole to invest in the club, both financially, and with their time. To do this, I believe that we the supporters have to work harder at “selling” the benefits of the club to the town and the community.”
“To sum it up, I would say the mood is ‘tentative’. As a club we have never been run in this way, we have always had a figurehead, some good, some bad. The supporters are now realising that as a club we ‘sink or swim’, as a result of our off-field activities to fund the club. It is their club and they have to work hard in order for it to be successful. But they will be involved in the decision making which is a big plus.”
“Given that our manager of last season resigned at the same time as the Chairman (13/06), and he had signed no players, we were facing a major challenge. However, we had new managers (Derry Robson, Steve Jeffs) installed by 5pm the same day, and we had worked out a playing budget.
Our joint managers have managed to sign up a number of players, and are continuing to do so. They have organised an ‘Open Day’ inviting any new players to come and join us – we have a large Polish and Russian Community in Goole, where we hope to unearth a ‘little gem’.
Given our limited budget, we are working towards a top half finish, which given our circumstances and upheaval, we will consider to be a success. Also high up on our agenda, is to win a cup tie. In the years I’ve been watching Goole, I have never seen them win one!”
“Youth development has never been important under previous managements. However, since the Supporters Cooperative assumed the mantle, we have already agreed with an U19 team to play under the Goole AFC banner. We are now in talks with other clubs, and hopefully in the course of this year we hope to build a structure that will serve the club over the forthcoming years.
As a Cooperative, our future depends on our youth teams, and the players that we can bring on. We are also looking to embrace and consolidate the various female (both youth and open-age) teams that are operating in the Goole area.
“One of the biggest challenges we will face moving forwards will be spiralling wage costs. Even in our league, the North East Counties Premier, the 5th tier of Non-League, some of the clubs are setting off with budgets in excess of £2000 per week. Total madness. Because we will have strict financial controls in place, the money available for players will be severely limited, and so we may lose some of our ‘better’ players who think they are worth more.
Budgetary constraints have forced us to concentrate on local players, who initially, may not have the skills but will almost certainly have the passion and pride of playing for their local club and their mates.”
“Our number one ambition is to be solvent at the end of this year, and to avoid relegation. If we can achieve these targets our local council has agreed to extend our current lease (which has seven years to run) to a period that will give us security i.e. 25-30 years. Such a lease will enable us to apply for various grants to grow the club.
Within five years, we hope to have achieved Evostick Premier status, a 3G pitch, built a comprehensive team structure encompassing teams of various ages (male and female) and started to redevelop the ground into a community stadium.”