New pitch ‘game changer’ at Stalybridge Celtic

STALYBRIDGE Celtic will press ahead with plans to install an artificial pitch which chairman and majority shareholder Rob Gorski believes is vital for the Bower Fold club’s survival, describing it as an “absolute game changer”.

Wendy Mackie, Rob Gorski, Simon Haworth

Mr Gorski painted a bleak picture about the club’s future prosperity without a 4G surface that can be used seven days a week to boost revenue streams and save the club having to hire training facilities for the first team and academy sides.

And Mr Gorski revealed the football club is “going solo” after protracted talks with Tameside Council about a partnership have come to nothing.

He told a ‘meet the manager and new CEO’ forum at Bower Fold that Celtic has already been to a bank with a business proposal.

Mr Gorski said: “I believe we are closer than ever before to getting a plastic pitch which would provide a massive revenue stream.

“All non-league sides that have them have a competitive advantage. They are all good at home which is another positive.

“I am grateful for the ear of Tameside Council, but that’s what we got and no more so will have to go solo.”

Mr Gorski again reiterated an earlier comment “this club has to change or die” amid a backdrop of attendances that had slumped worryingly in recent season.

And there was pessimistic prophecy from Mr Gorski who added: “Before I die there will be deaths of a couple of clubs in Tameside, and we don’t want to go down that route.

“We have been a lovely, welcoming club that has been run as a hobby and you only have to look to see it has not worked.

“If we don’t push forward, we will continue to go backwards which is why we have appointed a new CEO and commercial director.

“In the past we have talked a lot and done nothing, but things are going to change for the better as I have people around me to drive the club forward. And it has given me my mojo back.”

Mr Gorski was asked what would happen if gates, not long ago 700-800 and now around 300, drop even further, perhaps as low as 100?

“The club would die if gates dropped to that level. And if we carry on doing nothing they will drop to 150,” he said.

Mr Gorski admitted Celtic were only saved from relegation to Evo Stik League West last season by the Football Association’s restructuring of the non-league pyramid.

“If that had not happened we would have gone down and that would have been an utter catastrophe for the club,” he explained.

Newly-appointed commercial director Chris Horrocks and CEO Wendy Mackie have been given a goal of doubling the club’s annual turnover to £500,000 a year.

Mr Gorski, who admitted Celtic had seen other teams pass them by both on the field and financially, believes that would enable them to compete at a minimum of National League North.

“There are eight ex-Football League clubs in National League North which I believe is stronger than the Conference premier division which we competed in during the early 2000s,” he explained,
Mr Gorski added the immediate target is to raise extra revenue for 2019/20 season to enable manager Simon Haworth and his assistant Gareth Roberts to build a side capable of challenging for promotion.

He admitted Celtic had failed commercially and this had impacted on the team.

“In the last four years it has been down, down, down because off the field we have not done it and I take the blame,” he said.

Mr Gorski admitted the board of directors had been split over the future direction of the club, but they are now “all on the same page.”

He added the new appointments were “not negative against the directors.”

New director, Chris Horrocks

“If you cut their arms, they will give blue blood. They are all volunteers and give their time and effort to the club,” he said.

Mr Gorski concluded: “We have previously seen a few false dawns, but I am more positive than I have been for a long time.

“We have a clear vision of what we want to do and I truly believe we have turned the corner and genuinely believe we have the people to put the club back on the map.”

Businessman Mr Horrocks, who runs a marketing consultancy, was introduced to fans and spoke of his brief which is to bring in new revenue.

One of the ideas being explored is to stage a couple of concerts at Bower Fold to help generate income.

They were inspired after hearing Stockport County are putting on two this summer and one featuring Stockport band Blossoms sold all 15,000 tickets in 30 minutes.

Mr Horrocks, 49, who was previously global marketing manager for an American oil and gas company, said: “I knew Wendy’s family and also the football club needed revenue and needed revenue.

“When I met Rob and Wendy it was clear they needed me. It was fortuitous I had gone from working for a big company travelling the world to living locally.”

Mr Horrocks, a distant relative of Manchester United’s 1968 European Cup winner John Aston, is a governor at St Peter RC Primary, Stalybridge, which his two children attend.

Ms Mackie explained a priority is to build a new social club, adding the existing building badly needs to be replaced.

• Online kit sales, an initiative recently introduced by Ms Mackie, raised £1,300 for the club in its first three weeks.

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