WRIGHT MOVE: Soc­cer star joins board

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - FRONT PAGE - by Brian Cum­ming

FOR­MER Eng­land and Arse­nal striker turned TV pun­dit Ian Wright was at Ash­ford Town’s Home­lands Sta­dium on Satur­day af­ter join­ing the club as di­rec­tor of foot­ball strat­egy.

ASH­FORD Town Foot­ball Club’s for­tunes have come full cir­cle with the buy-out of Tim Thoro­good’s shares by new direc­tors Tony Bet­teridge and Don Cros­bie.

The two Kent busi­ness­men al­ready own the free­hold of Home­lands Sta­dium so their buy out re­unites the club with own­er­ship of the sta­dium.

It is a ma­jor move for­ward by the Town club that sees a re­or­gan­i­sa­tion at the top of the tree with the two men com­ing aboard as direc­tors but CEO Mark Jen­ner takes over as club chair­man.

But Thoro­good, who res­cued the club from in­sol­vency in 2001, is still part of the set-up and stays on as di­rec­tor of foot­ball.

Also on board as the new di­rec­tor of foot­ball strat­egy is for­mer Arse­nal and Eng­land goal ace Ian Wright who was at Home­lands again on Satur­day meet­ing the Town fans and talk­ing to the play­ers.

Un­der the terms of the agree­ment, the new own­ers are fully com­mit­ted to the re­fur­bish­ment and im­prove­ment of the ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties at Home­lands.

On top of this, they will pro­vide ad­e­quate fund­ing to the club on an on­go­ing ba­sis with the aim of seek­ing pro­mo­tion from the cur­rent level of Ry­man Di­vi­sion One.

The am­bi­tious new own­ers are both life­long foot­ball fans.

They have sev­eral busi­ness part­ner­ships and are in­volved with Kent At­trac­tions, the com­pany that owns the Hop Farm Coun­try Park and English Wines at the Lam­ber­hurst Vine­yard at­trac­tion and vis­i­tor cen­tre.

The pair see the pur­chase of the club as a fur­ther ex­ten­sion of their busi­ness re­la­tion­ship and al­lows them to re­main ac­tively in­volved in foot­ball.

Prior to this, Mr Cros­bie has also as­sisted with spon­sor- ing and the re­de­vel­op­ment of Pri­est­field Sta­dium, the home of Gilling­ham Foot­ball Club. He, along with Mr Bet­teridge, is ex­cited about re­new­ing his in­ter­est in foot­ball and is hop­ing to bring suc­cess to Home­lands.

Wright has bought a share­hold­ing in Ash­ford Town to un­der­pin his com­mit­ment to grass roots foot­ball in Eng­land and pur­sue his burn­ing de­sire to get young English­men play­ing the game.

De­lighted new chair­man Mark Jen­ner said this was a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity for the club. He said: “This was a once in a life­time op­por­tu­nity for the club to be prop­erly fi­nanced and to re­alise the po­ten­tial in Ash­ford Town, which will ul­ti­mately ben­e­fit the whole com­mu­nity. Ian Wright is a real coup for a club of our size and will open all kinds of op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

The two busi­ness­men bought Home­lands last year and have also paid off the club’s re­main­ing debt to Greene King.

Pic­ture Martin Apps pd1167814

Ian Ross gets Satur­day’s man-of-the-match award from spon­sors Fine Feasts and new di­rec­tor Ian Wright

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