New owner saves club at 11th hour

The Non-League Football Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Matt Bad­cock

NUNEATON BOR­OUGH’S fu­ture has been saved fol­low­ing a takeover by for­mer Non-League de­fender Nick Hawkins.

The NLP re­vealed at the end of Septem­ber the Na­tional League North club’s ex­is­tence was in jeop­ardy un­less a new owner was found.

Hawkins, who played for Huck­nall Town, Gres­ley and Chase­town, was un­veiled ahead of yes­ter­day’s de­feat to Leam­ing­ton and has promised to re­build links with lo­cal busi­nesses and the com­mu­nity.

“I’m un­der no il­lu­sions, there is lots of work to do,” the 33-year-old said. “But hope­fully by Christ­mas fans will see the ben­e­fits of our new di­rec­tion.”

NUNEATON BOR­OUGH boss Nicky Eaden has wel­comed the takeover by for­mer Non-League cen­tre-back Nick Hawkins.

The be­lea­guered Na­tional League North club were on the brink of go­ing out of busi­ness with se­ri­ous con­cerns as to how they could pay wages this month with­out a takeover.

Ef­fec­tively a rud­der­less ship since the sum­mer de­par­ture of pre­vi­ous owner Lee Thorn, boss Eaden and his as­sis­tant Lee Fowler were keep­ing the club go­ing along­side sec­re­tary Adam Etheridge and gen­eral man­ager Carly Mor­rey.

Port Vale chair­man Nor­man Smurth­waite had pur­chased their Lib­erty Way ground in June but, un­der FA and EFL rules, was un­able to have a say in day-to-day op­er­a­tions.

A bro­ken boiler meant cold show­ers, while the elec­tric was be­ing pow­ered by a diesel gen­er­a­tor – when it stopped work­ing, Eaden had to con­duct a team-talk in near dark­ness.

But af­ter ex-chair­man Ian Neale and Lee Thorn waived their di­rec­tors’ loans, Hawkins has been able to step in. The NLP un­der­stands the wage bill has to be cut and it’s ex­pected some play­ers will be leav­ing as the club shifts to a part-time model.

Hawkins com­pleted his takeover ahead of yes­ter­day’s game against Leam­ing­ton and Eaden hopes it can be the start of some­thing brighter for the club.

No il­lu­sions

“The most im­por­tant thing is the club’s been saved,” Eaden said. “The play­ers are go­ing to be paid and the fu­ture is look­ing brighter.

“Nick is com­ing in with a plan to move things for­ward and hope­fully in the same divi­sion next year. It’s still go­ing to be tough but a big cloud has been lifted. The fans have re­ally ral­lied around. At the Bradford PA game you could see a marked dif­fer­ence in the crowd, it was a big­ger gate, they were vo­cal and were back­ing the team. It was great.” Hawkins, 33, runs a re­fur­bish­ment busi­ness and played foot­ball for Goole, Shep­shed Dy­namo, Huck­nall Town, Gres­ley Rovers, Long Ea­ton United, Dunkirk and Leices­ter Road, as well as brief man­age­rial stints at East­wood Town and Bed­worth United. Ground im­prove­ments have al­ready be­gun with the new owner keen to re-en­gage lo­cal busi­nesses. “I’m un­der no il­lu­sions, we have lots of hard work to come,” Hawkins said. “The next few months will be hard for ev­ery­one as lots of things will change, but hope­fully by Christ­mas fans will see the ben­e­fits of our new di­rec­tion.”

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