TULIPS: Chairman wants immediate return to Step Four

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EBULLIENT chairman Chris Toynton insists he wants the Tulips to bounce back from relegation at the first attempt.

Some onlookers have suggested a slow rebuilding process in, most likely, the United Counties League is the way forward. Toynton is unmoved.

“I don’t subscribe to this notion of four or five seasons rebuilding,” he said. “I want to be back at this level as soon as possible.

“The plans we have for the club rely on that.”

The budget for next season’s assault back in Step Five of the non-league pyramid is already almost finalised. It’s said to be a “top six” amount but could yet be improved.

Toynton confirmed that he is not about to walk away from the struggling club, despite more and more flak flying his way from all quarters – including fans, former managers and this newspaper. He underlined his commitment to turning around the club’s fortunes.

In a honest interview yesterday, Toynton said: “I do love the club.

“Even if I were not chairman I would still want to go to matches.”

Toynton does not want praise or gratitute for his financial input, but it’s true that he has saved the club from going bust on more than one occasion – guaranteeing £17,000 to see the club through the second half of the 2002/03 season and, later, dipping his hand in his pocket for £1,000 per week.

Others, too, have dug deep to keep the Tulips afloat. In 2007 the club faced a High Court winding-up order over a £16,800 bill from HM Customs and Revenues. A £13,000 lump sum from someone “within the club” staved that off.

But all the financial worries are firmly in the past. In fact, Toynton claims no other club in the football pyramid is likely to be as sound.

On Monday, he sat down with new management team Andy Stanhope and Bob Don-Duncan to discuss the future – with one eye firmly on the team’s recent awful record.

“It’s sacking fodder,” Toynton told the Guardian, referring to a return of just three points from the 14 matches for which Stanhope has been in charge.

The chairman wanted to establish if the duo had the desire to deliver better days – and got his answer.

He said: “They convinced me that they were already brimming and ready to go.

“In Stan and Bob I believe, at last, we have the right combination to take us forward.

“They complement each other very well. Bob is more a thinking man; Stan is more boisterous and in your face.

“Bob has one of the best CVs, having won the UCL title three times, and Stan knows what it takes to win the championship and has good contacts.

“There is nothing they can do about this season but the preparation for next season starts now.”

Toynton was also happy to address the vast number of managers who have come and gone in his near-nine years at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field. The list (including caretaker roles) is Alan Biley (three spells), Andy Stanhope (two spells), Dick Creasey, Steve Charles, Steve Welsh, Phil Hubbard, Domenic Genovese, Alex Irvine, Mark Hone and Richard Scott.

“I’m not a sacking manager,” Toynton said. “The only one I got rid of was Phil Hubbard.”

However, he accepts that he was close to acting when Welsh left for Boston United.

In hindsight, the one managerial appointment mistake he admits to is not giving Charles the job full-time after he had did well following Creasey’s sudden 2004 exit.

And for the first time Toynton has spoken publicly about the acrimonious departure of Scott in January this year.

Scott resigned after being told results had to improve following a return of four wins in 31 matches in all competitions. He then lashed out at the chairman, saying the club would not go forward while he was in charge.

Toynton said this week: “I told him on the Thursday that we had to take points from Saturday’s match at Newcastle Town and, more importantly Tuesday at Shepshed Dynamo, who were bottom.

“On the Friday morning he told me he was going.

“We had asked him to identify players he needed to get us out of trouble. He told us it would cost more, but we said ‘let that be our problem’. He didn’t give us any names.

“The club has never reneged on a budget and has always offered help to every manager.

“I was shocked at what Richard said afterwards as I really did think we were friends.”

Toynton wants the “abysmal” home record of recent years to be addressed urgently to encourage fans back.

He said: “The bad results hurt me as much as them.

“But even with all the trials and tribulations, I’m still happy to be here. It’s been a bruising battle at times but I would not want to walk away and allow the club to fold.”

The Tulips are now six points adrift at the foot of Evo-Stik League Division One South with four games left. They travel to Loughborough Dynamo on Saturday (3pm).