Photography by Carl Ennis
CONCERNED Stalybridge Celtic supporters insist they are not mounting their campaign to take control of the club, they just want a club to back.
As they say, ‘A club without a club is nothing, which is why we’ve got to do this.’
The group has issued a rallying call after saying the Bower Fold outfit needed in the region of £25,000 to make its way through the season after manager Chris Willcock’s budget was cut by 20 per cent.
Funds will enable them to buy shares after chairman and majority shareholder Rob Gorski put his up for sale, leading to uncertainty over its future.
But head Shaun Bishop and vice-chair Alasdair Brown are adamant the Stalybridge Celtic Supporters Association (SCSA) is there to help and assist, both now and in the future – not to take it outright.
All they want is a voice that can be heard.
Shaun said: “As a supporters’ association, we’ve set up a community benefit society (CBS), which is similar to how FC United of Manchester is run.
“The aim is to get to 25 per cent and ideally get seats on the board going forward. We don’t want to dictate but work with the could going forward, so we’re never in a position where we’re scratching around for money to save us.
“It’s galvanised everyone because they see the struggles the club’s having and if we don’t do anything about it, we might not have a club.
“We’ve had meetings with the board, which is a link that had ever been there before.
“I don’t think there’s been a supporters’ voice for a long time. As soon as the chairman put his shares up for sale, we were invited to board meetings within a day, so the link’s there for all to see.
“We want to make it a better club for everybody, we want it to be here in 50 years’ time.”
It has also sparked a supporters’ association in Florida, courtesy of Stalybridge lad Glen Taylor, who lives in the state and works for Disney.
But this is far from Mickey Mouse and even if someone comes in and buys the club outright, Bower Fold cannot be levelled and turned into houses.
So far, two meetings have been held updating people where the SCSA has got and where it can get to.
And Alasdair says the group is willing to roll out the welcome mat for any future owner, if their intentions are good.
“Are you happy to work with us? All we want is a voice.
“It was mooted in the summer that we wanted to get it going – then it was along the lines of sell a few t-shirts, get some coach travel.
“You could tell the passion on the terraces. It was just we needed that focal point to focus everything towards a goal.
“Once we got that sorted, you saw men and women who were maybe a little disillusioned go, ‘We’re trying something here, lets push it forward. Let’s try to help out and see where we can take it.’
“People who hadn’t been for a few years have come and said, ‘We can notice that feeling of community is so much stronger.’
“A club without a club is nothing, which is why we’ve got to do this.”