Some decisions in Business Life are:
• Relatively easy judgements
• difficult to make
rarely in business should decisions
• be influenced by emotion
The decision I have had to make today was a very hard call but one I instinctively know is correct and in the best interests of Southend United Football Club.
Most people associated with the Club are currently thinking of “the day out” at Wembley. The 7th April will be a Special Day, a day in the Club’s history….a day for the Town of Southend.
I too will look forward to “our day out” but as Chairman my responsibility and focus must also be on the wider interests of “Southend United”. The primary objective last season and again this season was Promotion. The Manager and Players have understood that from the outset. We came up short last season in the Play Offs and the recent results against relatively low League teams such as:
have not been good enough…..2 points out of 15 by any standard is poor. ALL these Teams’ playing budgets are considerably less than Southend United’s and 4 out of the 5 teams are around half of what Southend United invest in “its” Squad. The amount of investment in players must be one of the fundamental criteria for success – otherwise I could argue that by cutting the Clubs budget in half we should still expect promotion. Our investment has enabled the Manager to build a squad both last year and this year of having more, quality, players at his disposal than most Teams in the League. Therefore in the event of injury or suspension other players were readily available to “step up to the plate” and prove themselves.
All Teams in football have injuries and when that has happened at Southend we have supported the Manager still further on every occasion. The Board has recently sanctioned an additional six players (5 loanees) to help maintain the challenge at the top end of the Table. However the form, just as it did last season, has dropped off when it should have been pushing for automatic promotion. Let’s be clear, promotion should always be a realistic prospect for Southend United in League 2. We are not a League 2 Club and my ambition as Chairman is to ensure we compete and fulfil our potential whilst at Roots Hall and continue that trend in the new Stadium.
Promotion has always been the first priority and the Manager has always known that.
We could reasonably have expected to win all the above games and that would have seen us currently 2nd in the League Table…even 12 points would have seen us in the Automatics. However with just 2 points out of 15 when judged against the further support and investment in new players is unacceptable.
Paul Sturrock’s three year contract comes to an end this season and The Club will not be renewing Paul’s contract. Paul’s first year was difficult but the last two seasons he has had a free hand to achieve the clear objective of getting the Club out of this League. No matter how much I personally wrestle with the positive arguments (Paul is experienced, a nice man, honest and likeable) my responsibility is to bring success and growth to your Club.
If the Club were to appoint a different Manager during the Close Season the new man would have no opportunity to assess the ability of the current squad of players in, and crucially, a competitive environment. That would mean that we would start next season with uncertainty, inevitable changes and a loss of continuity as he got to grips with each players ability (strengths/weaknesses), the individual characteristics and how those temperaments mould within the squad as a whole.
This all takes time and the Club needs to hit the ground running from day 1 with absolute focus on the task in hand. Not “spluttering” whilst the new Manager is still on a steep learning curve as to each players suitability etc.
The next 7-8 games (at least) is an opportunity for the players to prove their ability. I have not lost faith in this Squad, they are good people, with talent and many capable of playing at a higher level. I would like to keep much of the Squad together but it is now up to each and every player to prove beyond any doubt that my faith, and in the opinion of the new Manager, is not misplaced.
The Club as I say above will not be renewing Paul’s contract at the end of this season and will appoint a new Manager tomorrow to ensure the Club’s interests are protected and advanced both now and from the first day of next Season.
“there is no sentiment in football”
I do not agree, we are all human and have to understand the emotions influenced by our decisions.
The decisions here are, as I say at the beginning of this Statement, driven by the wider interests of Southend United…..its success and growth whilst remaining conscious of what is fair and just. These may not be sentiments common to Football but it is the way I want this Club to be run.
For all these reasons I have suggested to Paul he leads the Team out and manages them at Wembley. He has earned that privilege and agreed.