A RELIEVED Simon Haworth has been handed a huge lift as he begins building for Stalybndge Celtic’s 2019-20 campaign.
Celtic’s manager has been told his playing budget will be the same after it was feared another cut was looming in the light of the club’s challenging financial position.
Haworth had been expecting the wage bill being slashed for a second successive year which would have brought about an exodus of players. It was cut by around 40 per cent when he took over from Steve Burr in the summer of 2018.
“It is good news and gives us a chance to bring back some of the better players and also find a few pieces of the jigsaw that are missing,” he said.
Haworth was given the good news following a meeting with club chairman and majority shareholder Rob Gorski and CEO Wendy Mackie.
Celtic’s board had earlier met to discuss plans for the next Evo-Stik League, premier division campaign.
Haworth said: “I had a good meeting with Rob and Wendy and, by having the same budget, gives us a chance as another cut would have been a disaster on the field.
“Now I now the budget, I will try to put together a team that gives us a chance of being competitive.”
Celtic only avoided relegation in April by winning their last game of the season at home to Grantham. It followed a worrying slide in the last couple of months of the campaign.
Haworth believes the top 10-12 teams will all have larger playing budgets to Celtic.
“The challenge is to break into that group, something I believe is possible if our recruitment is right,” he explained.
Haworth is hoping to keep the nucleus of last season’s side and he does not want a repeat of when he took over and had to completely rebuild the team from scratch.
He has set the ball rolling by speaking to several of last season’s players, though some are on holiday.
Haworth said: “As the budget is the same from last season, I will be able to make fair offers to players.
“I feared, had the budget been cut, that I would have had to offer reduced terms and players would probably have left.
“I want to bring back the core of the players and find replacements for the areas where we weren’t good enough.”
Celtic have only one contracted player, exciting forward Neil Kengni as the teenager scored 12 goals in his debut campaign.
They have also re-signed the versatile Mark Lees from Ashton United after the player spent the latter part of last season on loan at Bower Fold.
Haworth believes the lack of a top striker last season was glaringly obvious.
He continued: “Everyone who watched us regularly will tell you that. We were genuinely in a lot of games up until February but could not finish off teams.
“I would say the lack of a striker who could score 20 goals cost us a chance of a place in the top 10-12.”
Though not a prolific goalscorer, Haworth believes Celtic missed the qualities of striker Chris Sharp who departed mid-season to join FC United.
“I am hoping it was Neil Kengni’s breakthrough season and, after he learned a lot, he may be the player to score us 20 plus goals.
“He is a rough diamond and ideally we need a striker with physicality to play alongside him to bring the best out of him.”
Haworth added that is the challenge explaining a target man with mobility and an ability to score is a “rare commodity”.
Celtic’s manager added there is also a considerable amount to be done off the field.
“Rob and Wendy have promised there will be changes and they will be moving the club forward off the pitch,” he said.
And after last season’s well-documented issues and splits in which a number of key personal left, Haworth at one stage described the atmosphere at the club as “toxic”.
Haworth explained: “I rattled a few cages. I wanted people at the club, myself included, to look at themselves.
“I am hoping we can all pull together and move the club forward and have a successful season which would be the first for a long time.”