"Give us a chance" - New Chesterfield FC chairman on appointing John Pemberton, hopes for more financial support and his message to Spireites fans

New Chesterfield chairman, Mike Goodwin, has encouraged Spireites fans to give the community trust a chance and has promised honesty and transparency.

Saturday, 8th August 2020, 4:38 pm
A new era at Chesterfield FC: Vice-chairman Martin Thacker, chairman Mike Goodwin and vice-chairman Dave Simmonds.

Speaking at a press conference at the Technique Stadium on Friday, Mr Goodwin confirmed that John Pemberton will be appointed as manager in the near future and that player signings will follow.

He also revealed that he is trying to persuade Bolsover District Council to join Chesterfield Borough Council and Derbyshire County Council in financially supporting the trust.

The trust took over the club from Dave Allen on Thursday and Mr Goodwin will be joined on the new board by trustees Jane Cooper, Dr Paul Stankard, Terry Ward and vice-chairmen Dave Simmonds and Martin Thacker. Peter Whiteley, the trust’s governance officer, will be the new company secretary.

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The Chesterfield FC Community Trust took over the club from Dave Allen this week.

Mr Goodwin told the DT: “I am feeling elated. It has been a long road for us to get to this stage. I first registered our interest with Dave Allen on October 2 last year. We thought at that stage we might have it done and dusted by February time but of course that did not happen. Covid-19 then threw another spanner in the works and there have been quite a few ups and downs since then but to finally get it over the line and to finally have the club back in the hands of the supporters I think it is a tremendous thing for Chesterfield and the surrounding area."

As a supporter of the club since he was young boy, Mr Goodwin said it is a privilege to be the new chairman.

"It means the world to me because I have been a supporter for over 60 years and to be able to influence it and to be able to help save the club, help make it sustainable for the future, is personally very satisfying,” he said. “I can't wait to get started and I know the other five directors on the board can't wait to get started. We have got a complete plethora of skills right across the spectrum that we can bring to make this club successful. It won't be easy and there will be some ups and down along the route but I think we are all of the same mind. We all want to put all the time and effort into making it work and I think we have got a great chance.”

Pemberton came in as caretaker manager in January and helped save the club from relegation and his appointment will be confirmed shortly as well as new deals for players whose contracts expired at the end of June.

A press conference was held at the Technique Stadium on Friday to unveil the new owners.

The Spireites players will meet up again on August 20 for health checks and pre-season will start four days later.

“We thought that John did a great job last season,” Mr Goodwin said. “I met with him for a couple of hours last week. I was impressed with the guy. He talks my language. We will support him from the boardroom, I have promised him that. The playing matters will be his and he will be judged on that but he will be left to sign who he wants to sign within the restrictions of the budget that we have got and hopefully that will be enough to give us some success. That (his appointment) will be confirmed in the near future as soon as I can sit down and speak to him again. I have told him the sort of deal we want to give him. He is happy with that and I have already talked to him about certain players. We are going to be notifying you of some players that have actually put pen to paper now. There is a lot of work for us to do but we are itching to get started.”

Chesterfield Borough Council and Derbyshire County Council have both loaned the trust £500,000 each to help buy and initially run the club and it is hoped Bolsover District Council will join them. North East Derbyshire District Council initially agreed to support financially but are not in a position to do so now but will be helping with other matters.

Mr Goodwin said: "Bolsover were part of the original partnership. They've not committed yet but I hope to go to their cabinet and speak with them and I am hoping they will see the benefit of coming into the consortium.”

Liam Cooper’s promotion to the Premier League with Leeds United will land the trust around £150,000 as part of the terms of the deal that took him to Elland Road in 2014. That money is due to be transferred next week. They could also benefit from another windfall if Sam Morsy moves on from Wigan Athletic.

The takeover has been welcomed by the majority of fans but some will have their doubts about how it will work but Mr Goodwin is urging everyone to give them a chance.

"It is going to be difficult and I know people are going to be sceptical, particularly around finances because people want success on the field,” he said. “But it's not all about success on the field, it's a large part and I accept that and people will judge us in future on what our league position is and I hope we can deliver on that but it is important for me that this club is preserved for future generations. My grandchildren will come down and this club will still be here for them. Sustainability is a key factor for me as well.”

When asked what success for the trust would be, he added: “Over this next 12 months success would for me be that we are sustainable. Hopefully I will be standing here talking to you saying we have made a good fist of it and that the club is sustainable financially and we have not been flirting with relegation, and in fact we have finished in the top half. It is not that we are settling for that. The manager is far more ambitious than me. He wants success. He wants to make a success of being a football manager and I think if you link that with our ambitions then you have got a great team.”

Posing for pictures pitchside with a Spireites scarf draped around him with Mr Thacker and Mr Simmonds either side, Mr Goodwin said he will be inviting Town fans to hear their plans and that opening the stadium for business straight away was a top priority.

“I want to get the ground into shape, I want to start selling from the club shop, I want conference and banqueting within the limits of Covid to start earning some cash for us,” he explained. “We want to get the main lounge open as a bar. One of the first things I want to do is talk to the supporters. I want to get them down here and I want them to ask open and transparent questions and I want to be open and transparent with them. That is something that is not just important to me but to the whole of the board. Nobody wants to hide anything. There will be no surprises with us. What you see is what you get. We are all supporters of the club.”

Mr Goodwin said Spireites fans will have a “huge” part to play in helping the club being sustainable, not just financially but by volunteering as well.

One of the directors, Dr Paul Stankard, is set to take on the role as supporter liaison officer, while the trust is also looking at bringing in a marketing manager and a chief financial officer.

Another idea is to have ‘matchday ambassadors’ to give people a high-quality customer service when they visit the Technique Stadium.

"The business plan is going to be tight so we are going to need people to come down and help us,” Mr Goodwin said. “We want it to feel like a family, community-owned club where everybody's happy to come down. We want to put some goodwill and some good feeling back into Chesterfield Football Club."