Charlie Clapham has launched a passionate defence of his Southport chairmanship and targeted an immediate return…
….to non-League football’s top flight.
The Sandgrounders were relegated from the Blue Square Bet Premier last weekend after defeat to Kettering Town on the final day of the season left `Port in the bottom four on goal difference.
Coming straight back down to the Conference North after their 2010 title win has hurt everyone at the club says Clapham and though he stressed nobody his pointing the finger of blame, changes will be made to the playing and coaching staff this summer.
Clapham confirmed a meeting has already taken place with manager Liam Watson about next season, where the chairman says finishing in the play-off places is a must.
However, the club will work with a smaller budget than the campaign just finished and Clapham once again stressed the importance of living within their means, responding strongly when the accusation of lacking ambition.
“It is early days to be making firm declarations as to where we are going to be,” said Clapham.
“But it is fair to say everybody connected with the club was devastated on Saturday night around 8pm when it became known we had been relegated.
“What was clear was that we were not good enough over the forty-six-game season. We had some great performances, beating Luton Town 2-1 was enjoyable and the high of our FA Cup game with Sheffield Wednesday was an added bonus. But there were not enough of these performances.
“There is no ‘I’ in team and we all have to accept the responsibility, apart from the supporters who have been magnificent. They have been magnificent again, especially away from home and when we take between 400-500 fans with us, it is testament to the support they have for their home town club.
“We have got to move forward and I have already sat down with Liam. Even at this early stage he knows the players he feels he wants to retain as well as the players he would like to bring into the club.
“It is all about bouncing back – we want to start and finish the season in the top five. That is not putting pressure on people, but we cannot allow the season that has just gone to descend into anything more than one season. We have to bounce back with promotion into the Blue Square Bet Premier and also equip ourselves for a run in one of the cup competitions.
“It is clear the income of the club will be affected considerably by the move from Conference Premier to Conference North.
“There will have to be reductions across the board and this is not just about the playing budget.
“There will be changes on the management side of things and I am just finalising with Liam what they are. There will be changes throughout the whole squad, both playing and coaching. We were always going to take stock of everything, even if we had stayed in the Conference Premier.
“There has been no conversation on the line about Liam leaving the club. I sat down with Liam in the early part of this week and we conducted our review of the season.
“Anyone who knows me would not be saying that I am not ambitious. I have not got to where I am in my life and professionally if I was not so.
“People must realise ambition needs to be affordable because often it is measured by money.
“My record stands before me. I’ve had twenty-nine years at this football club and I have kept Southport Football Club in the community. This club will always belong to the town and with the exception of the support of vice-chairman Sam Shrouder, I have ploughed a lone furrow.
“Nobody yet has put their head above the parapet and said ‘let me invest’. But I will not sell the football club short and leave it relying on one individual, in whose absence the club would get into trouble.
“The vast majority of Southport supporters believe in the way we run the club.”