A football fan who has extensive experience working with local clubs is appealing to the people of Eastwood to help him in his goal of bringing the sport back to the town.
Simon Matters, 44, says he is determined to see a fans-run club replace Eastwood Town FC, which looks set to be officially liquidated in the next few weeks.
Mr Matters, who has worked with the likes of Hucknall Town and Gresley FC in the last 20 years, says he has no interest in making any money from the new club, but needs help in getting his plans off the ground.
He said: “My ultimate aim is to have a club run by the fans and the community and that plays its football at Coronation Park.
“If the town wants a football club, I can give them a football club, but I can’t do it all on my own nor do I intend to. I need to get together a working party as soon as possible so that we can start to put a viable long-term business plan in place.
“I’ve spoken to Broxtowe Borough Council and also the Nottinghamshire FA who have both been very supportive and it’s now a case of getting the ball rolling.”
Mr Matters says he understands that many local people may be sceptical over any plans to run a new club given the difficulties experienced at Eastwood Town in recent years, but he insists he is keen to push ahead with his plans for all the right reasons.
“I was involved on the commercial side of things at Hucknall Town for a number of years and was football secretary at Gresley FC for a while too. I can run a football club with my eyes closed,” he added.
“But first and foremost I’m a huge fan of local non-league football and attend around 200 games a season at all levels.
“I’m not interested in making any money, I just want to get back involved in football and it’s a great chance to give Eastwood a team once again.
“The club used to be run very well for many years and the town needs that kind of club back.
“Of course people are very wary given what’s happened recently, but I’d appeal to those who have been involved in the past, albeit not necessarily at board level, to get in touch as we aim to put these plans together.
“I’ve also had a few ex-players from the last ten or 15 years get in touch expressing an interest in helping out, so I’m confident we can get somewhere with this.”
Mr Matters also made clear his determination that any new club would again have the Badgers’ current home of Coronation Park as its base.
He said: “It’s imperative that Coronation Park is again the home ground of any new club.
“Broxtowe Borough Council have told me they’re keen to see the facility used in that way although until the old club is liquidated there is no way the ground can be used, so those hurdles will have to be cleared first.
“Anyone can say they want to use the ground but I want to put forward a viable long-term business plan with a view to having a club where fans elect the board members and where no one person is in charge.
“I’ve been in dialogue with the people who re-started the new club in Rushden and also those behind FC United of Manchester to gain advice on how to move forward. Now I need local fans to get on board with me to form a working party as soon as possible.”
Broxtowe Borough Council leader Milan Radulovic says he welcomes any expressions of interest in forming a new club, and hopes to have an open meeting with relevant parties so fans can question those involved.
He said: “We’ve had several different groups and organisations come to us with plans for a new club which we welcome as we’re keen to see something created as soon as possible.
“Having filed all papers with the court for liquidation of Eastwood Town FC, we’re now waiting to be given a date for the case to be heard.
“Once the liquidation process is out of the way, we will have an open meeting where plans for a new club can be put forward. We need a totally clean break from the old club with new ideas, new people and a new constitution which we can assist with creating.
“It’s my opinion that a club run by the people of Eastwood is the way forward, with the Coronation Park ground being used to its full potential in the process.”
In terms of timescale, Mr Matters believes it would be difficult to get a new club in place before next season, but that the 2015/16 campaign could be far more likely, particularly in terms of entering the club at as high a level as possible.
He said: “We’d be foolish to think we’d get back in at a similar level in the pyramid to that vacated by Eastwood Town, but I would hope at the very least that a level such as the East Midlands Counties League could be a good starting point.
“If we can get back to using Coronation Park as soon as possible even without a league, perhaps on a groundshare basis or to host some friendlies, that would be a good step forward and then we can concentrate on joining a league - hopefully in time for the 2015/16 season.”
Anybody interested in contacting Simon Matters with regard to forming a new club can initially contact him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.