Terras Chairman Ian White Joined Ben Ashelford for Podcast #7, here are the highlights for those of you who missed it. The full podcast, also including Manager Mark Molesley, Yemi Odubade, and BBC Solent’s Cliff Pledge is still available HERE.
Ben Ashelford: So, Ian Lets discuss the Farnborough game shall we, seeing as we’ve just watched it?
Ian White: Well maybe someone could write in and tell us why I was so nervous watching the game when we won it a year ago? But what a day that was, We’d been in that league for 8 or 9 years we were stuck there, but then we started to see light at the end of the tunnel, Mark Molesley came on board with his fantastic management team, the Board got together, started realising we had some brilliant people on board that all only cared about the football club, and then that glimmer of light opened up, and there’s a good way to see what it meant to me if you go on the website, there are two pictures one where I’m cheering as they lift the cup and the second you can see I’m just thinking, and I was thinking “We did it, we rescued it, we got it back to where it should be and now it can only get better”. It was an incredible afternoon, it will be hard to beat it, but I am sure we will.
BA: Obviously the season has finished now and we ended up third, how proud are you of our first season back in the National League South?
IW: Crikey…I think its been absolutely fantastic. I had a suspicion we’d do well and I never thought we would be in a relegation battle, we have a good side and a fantastic management team, the manager hates me saying it but this is the best management team we’ve had in the 23 years that I’ve been involved. Getting promoted last year was fantastic, but actually we got ourselves into a position where we could have double bounced, it may not be over yet, we don’t know but it would have been unbelievable for us to have done it.
Whatever happens now, we finished third in the league, we are 27th in the Non-League pyramid which was some endeavour when I think some teams might have thought that we would just come up and be a bit of a whipping boy. But we have a really good side and I’m really proud of them but its not just the players, it’s the Management Team, it’s the Board of Directors, it’s the Volunteers and of course the other part of the Terras family, the fans and the way they’ve stepped up and the way they help in any way that they can, it’s a fantastic place to be.
BA: So now I’m going to touch on the Play-offs, how has the communication from the National League been? How’s it been from your point of view?
IW: Communication hasn’t been great, its been very hard. The problem is that they have been waiting to see what the EFL do, the problem with the EFL is that they are unbalanced with one club less because of what happened at Bury. I’ve been to a couple of National League AGMs now and its clear that the two promotion places, one automatic and one via play offs, are very important to them. They have been waiting and waiting and waiting to find out what the EFL are going to do because they are worried they might lose that.
Last week we received a consultation letter from the League asking whether we wanted the Play Offs cancelled altogether or postponed to be played before next season starts. We had a Board Meeting using Zoom to discuss our response and I had to send a letter with our response.
Our letter stated that, IF the play offs go ahead, Weymouth Football Club will play in them.
I have seen letters from other clubs and what I think they basically show is that they can’t afford to participate, and they have voted against them. Which just goes to show how well living within our means has helped us. We have paid our players 100% of their wages as we felt that was the right thing to do. We have put plans in place so that IF the play offs take place we will be able to compete.
BA: Are there any updates on the new stadium?
IW: As you know we were due to hold our AGM on 4th April, and we will have is as soon as we can, and we would have made an announcement.
As things stand I think its clear that we have spent a lot of money on our current stadium. A new roof, a whole stand of new seating and state of the art floodlights which has been done with help from Football Foundation grants etc, also the amazing work done by Pete Pavey and his boys painting the place and getting it looking fantastic.
We announced at a shareholders meeting at the beginning of the season that we had come to an agreement with Morgan Sindall to get some of our land back, that is on public record.
For me as Chairman, unless we can get a ground considerably better than the one we have now I personally wouldn’t want to see us move away from the Bob Lucas Stadium and I think in maybe five years’ time, instead of being a bit away from things we could find that we are right in the middle of housing with all the stuff that is being built around us, that’s not to say that the houses will come right up to the stadium or anything like that.
We got to a position where we had to do something, you cant blame anyone previously involved who didn’t want to put a lot of money into a ground that we might be moving out of but we got to a position where we had to do something. Its thanks to a lot of work from Steve Walkinshaw and others that the ground improvements have been done but at one point, particularly with regard to the roof that we might not have been allowed to carry on playing at the stadium unless we did something.
As I say we will reveal more details when we can have an AGM, but we have got some of the land back and personally I’d like to see us stay where we are unless something much better can replace it, there is an option agreement until 2024, and currently there is nowhere else for us to go, and that all already a matter on public record.