In disturbingly familiar fashion, Weston-super-Mare were denied late on, this time by Whitehawk at the Enclosed Ground on Saturday afternoon. Read the rest of this entry
For the second time in the space of a week, Weston-super-Mare were stung by a late goal to condemn them to an agonising defeat, making it three losses on the spin for Ryan Northmore’s side as they fell 1-2 to playoff-pursuers Concord Rangers. Read the rest of this entry
An intelligent display from Ryan Northmore’s Weston-super-Mare AFC saw the Seagulls bank another three points in the Vanarama Conference South. Read the rest of this entry
Phil Babb has been busy in the last couple of days, signing no fewer than six players to bolster his Conference South side. Read the rest of this entry
Weston-super-Mare AFC manager Ryan Northmore spoke of frustration with his side’s play in the final third at Twerton Park on New Year’s Day, but Sunday’s 3-2 victory against Sutton United at the Woodspring Stadium will go a long way to alleviating his dissatisfaction of a few days ago.
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A look at the predictions I made prior to the season for the Vanarama Conference divisions. Read the rest of this entry
Following on from my Conference Premier prediction, it is now time to turn the focus onto Step Two. Which clubs can take the titles in Conference North and South, and with it a place at non leage’s top table?
My tip for the Conference North title is Barrow AFC. Under manager Darren Edmondson, the club have made good progress, and the ex-Huddersfield Town and Carlisle United defender has assembled a strong looking squad for the new campaign. The most notable signing is probably that of striker Anthony Wilson, who scored twenty league goals for North Ferriby United as they finished second in their first ever season at Step Two.
Another potential star signed is James Ellison. The 22 year old striker came through the youth ranks at Liverpool, but has been somewhat nomadic since leaving Anfield in 2009. Barrow will be his eleventh club in those five years. It’s fair to say that he had struggled to make an impact at any of the previous ten clubs, until he arrived at Colwyn Bay, where he made more than fifty appearances in just over a season and scored fifteen goals. If he settles into life in the North East quickly, Edmondson may have unearthed a gem.
It’s not just in attack where Edmondson has strengthened though. Defender Danny Livesey has joined the club after spending the second half of last season with my Premier tip Wrexham on loan from Carlisle United. The 29 year old is something of a legend at Brunton Park, spending almost ten years at the club and making more than three hundred appearances. He also captained theside. His experience will be key for Barrow this season, and at a still relatively young age, is a fantastic signing.
Everything seems to be in place for The Bluebirds to have a real crack at the title next season, and the fact that they are currently the bookies’ favourites bears that out.
In the South, it was an easy pick for me. I’ve gone for Bromley FC. Just a look at the news section on their website shows how much they’ve been up to in the close season. Record season tickets and a whole host of quality signings mean Mark Goldberg’s side are rightly the clear favourites for promotion.
Goldberg seems to have strengthened every area of the squad, and every position on the pitch. In goal, ex-AFC Wimbledon favourite Seb Brown has joined. Brown, you may recall, was a hero in the Conference playoff final against Luton Town back in 2011, saving two penalties in the shootout to help The Dons into the Football League. He spent part of last season on loan at Woking, but has joined the revolution at ambitious Bromley following his release from AFC.
The defense has been added to, with Adam Bailey-Dennis rejoining the club for the new season. Bailey-Dennis spent the latter part of last season at Hayes Lane, and the former Colchester United, Braintree Town and Bury Town man obviously feels he is at the right club at the right time.
In midfield, Goldberg has really pulled off some great looking signings. Moses Ademola, Dean Sinclair, and Damian Scannell all add quality and experience, whilst upfront there have been some fantastic additions, mainly Sam Higgins from East Thurrock United, and ex-Tottenham Hotspur and Chelmsford City man Jamie Slabber from Sutton United. I’ve seen both players play live, and they should be cracking additions to the squad.
It may not have always been the most stable and harmonious club internally over the years, but things have really improved. Goldberg is now going into his fourth season in charge – in his third spell as manager. That sort of stability shouldn’t be ignored, and coupled with the new signings, things are looking good. If the manager can find a good blend, and keep everybody happy, I can honestly see Bromley FC running away with Conference South this season.
What do you think about my predictions for Step Two? Do you agree, or do you have your own tips for the titles? Get in touch on facebook or twitter (search undertheleague on either), or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively leave a comment on this post.
This summer has been one of the messiest I can remember. Clubs folding, reprieves, relegations and transfers between divisions have all meant that the situation has got muddier and muddier, and the kerfuffle surrounding Salisbury City just adds to that.
Everything seemed to be going pretty well down at The Ray Mac. A good young manager in Mikey Harris, and a team that was arguably punching above its weight in the top flight of nonleague football. However, that has all now turned to dust as the club currently face up to an uncertain future. And for once, that uncertain future lies on the pitch. No manager, no players and a transfer embargo all put the very future of the club in jeopardy.
Following last season’s solid twelfth place finish, the supporters have had the rug pulled from under them, as they watch helpless while their club is embroiled in scandal before being demoted and then ultimately thrown out of the Conference structure. And it all boils down to one man; former owner Medy Outail Touzar. The Dubai based business man took over the club in May 2014 along with Mark Winter – one of the consortium that has now taken control of the club after successfully taking legal action to remove Mr Touzar from the board. The club allege that Touzar did not put a single penny into the club since taking over, leading to the legal challenge against him.
The club had come out of administration in December 2013 after five years of financial turmoil which culminated in a double demotion in 2010, but have been under a transfer embargo since April over failure to pay creditors. Reports say that players have not been paid for two months, leading to the Conference board taking action.
Their first demotion occured on June 13th, when The Whites were relegated to Conference South for failing to meet a deadline for clearing outstanding debts. This led to reprieves for Chester FC in the Premier, and Hayes & Yeading United in the South. And remember, Hayes & Yeading were already embroiled in controversy as they were already appealing for a reprieve due to the Worksop Town/Vauxhall Motors scenarios!
Then, on July 4th, it was announced that Salisbury City were to be thrown out of the Conference altogether for again missing a payment deadline. The Conference also announced that the South would carry on a club short, rather than go through the turmoil of reprieving clubs again. The club, though, were severely angered and distressed by the Conference announcement. And rightly so it might turn out.
On their official website, the club released a statement on July 4th, stating that the Conference had gone back on their original promises. The club claim that they were told that if they could pay off the debts (in excess of £91,000) and safeguard the future of the club, then they would be allowed to continue in the South. They had the money ready to transfer to the Conference account, but were told at around 3pm that day not to transfer the funds as they would be non-refundable. The announcement then followed that they were to be turfed out – to all intents and purposes – into no man’s land.
The problem for City now is: where do they play their football? With the decision taken not to reprieve a team in Conference South, that means there is nowhere for Salisbury to go. That to me seems ludicrous. Surely it would be better to try and accomodate them somewhere, even if it did mean a second double demotion in four years?
I do, however, understand that it would be extremely difficult to issue reprieves at this late stage in proceedings. The Conference fixtures are out, clubs up and down the pyramid have set budgets and started building squads accordingly, so to start rearranging now would be unhelpful in the extreme. Considering they turned down Lowestoft Town’s request to shift back to the North – where they were originally placed before everything kicked off – then reprieves were never going to happen.
That then, surely leaves only one solution: allow Salisbury City to take their place in Conference South, and thus returning the division to a full compliment of participants? I know that rules are rules, and that they are implemented to try and ensure clubs are run properly, but it does seem City have been treated harshly. They have already – justly – been demoted one division due to unpaid debts, but they are now under new ownership, and they had the monies ready to meet the Conference’s concerns, so why did the Conference then do such a spectacular u-turn?
Again, as is always the case in such situations, it’s the fans who suffer. Yes, the club have been run shoddily in the past and have endured years of ignominy and uncertainty, but it seems as though they are now on a firmer footing under new owners, and yet still there seems to be people not wishing to see the club move on. If the club are not reinstated into the Conference South, then the club could feasibly go out of business altogether. With no games – and therefore no income – for at least the next year, surely the troubled club can no longer operate. Even if they are reinstated, that doesn’t leave much time to assemble a squad and appoint a new manager. Veteran Football League striker and former Weymouth manager Steve Claridge has been sounded out regarding the managerial vacancy, but this would be a monumental challenge for the TV pundit to take on, with the new season just weeks away and no plans in place as yet.
The Conference have virtually condemned Salisbury to relegation anyway now, as even if they are reinstated, building a competitive squad at such short notice would be nigh on impossible, but it’s better that than the alternative for fans of The Whites.
A club statement read:
“We are very disappointed to be informed by Craig Laird that he has resigned as First Team Coach. The Board felt that Craig was the right person to take the club forward on the pitch.
“We have explained to Craig the reasons that have led to us having to reduce our playing budget for the coming season. At the same time, we explained that our current circumstances are looking better regarding developing the club and that we would be in a position to progress to the Conference Premier in the 2015-16 season.
“Despite having spent considerable time explaining the rationale behind the decisions, it is therefore a regret to recieve Craig’s resignation.
“We would like to thank Craig for all the work he has done in producing excellent results on the pitch.”
Laird had resigned once already during the season, quitting back in March over budget disagreements. This time, it looks as though the four year love affair has ended for good.
Conference South club Weston-Super-Mare have parted company with manager Craig Laird, according to a press release issued by the club:
“It is with regret that the Board have had to part company with the manager Craig Laird. Whilst we would like to thank Craig for all of his hard work and success on the pitch, his decision not to sign a contract and commit his future to the club can’t be ignored any longer. In addition to this, his request for a further £42000 increase to his budget, a £6000 overspend on the agreed budget for this season, and the fact that he has already received an increase of £27000 since joining us, has left the Board with no alternative than to part company. The club cannot meet those financial demands and will continue to pursue Conference Premier Football within a responsible financial strategy.
THERE WILL BE NO FURTHER STATEMENT AT THIS TIME”
Laird had been in charge at Woodspring Stadium since May 2010 after leaving Bridgwater Town to take the job. During his tenure at the club, LAird maintained their Step 2 status, whilst also winning back to back Somerset Premier Cups, the first time the club had won the trophy.