WRIGHT MOVE: Soccer star joins board
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.
Ian Ross gets Saturday’s man-of-the-match award from sponsors Fine Feasts and new director Ian Wright