THE DIRECTORS of Malvern Town Football Club have revealed their long-term ambitions for the club, a year on from when it was ‘minutes away from bankruptcy’.
Project 2020 is Chris Pinder’s and Ted Grizzell’s vision to develop a multi-purpose facility at the Langland Stadium within five years.
The building will provide spaces for football and education among a wide range of activities and functions in a bid to widen Malvern Town’s community outreach programme.
Chris said: “This will bring in even more groups and make Malvern Town the real central hub for Pickersleigh and the surrounding area.”
The ambitious project marks a drastic turnaround from where the club was 12 months ago.
Outstanding debts of almost £200,000 loomed and a receiver had seized control of the stadium with the power to lock the gates.
An urgent meeting was called where it was agreed Chris and Ted, who previously had no connection to club, would take over after they put forward their business plan. But their attempts to purchase the ground were prevented by a restrictive legal covenant which meant they had to convince Malvern Hills District Council to buy the site for them.
“MHDC have been the facilitators to our survival and have really played a key role in ensuring we continue to thrive.” Chris said.
With the club’s home secured through a long-term lease, Chris and Ted have set about transforming everything inside which they likened to ‘switching off a computer and rebooting it’.
The first step was to gain FA Charter Standard status, an FA kite-mark which shows the club is legally, financially and structurally sound.
Under 18s and under 21s teams have also been created and the women’s team, which had previously been scrapped, has been re-introduced.
The club’s player development programme has been relaunched which gives teenagers from teams all around Malvern a chance to play at a good competitive standard.
Ted, who is also a qualified FA coach, said: “It has created a real affinity with Malvern Town and gives players somewhere to aim for.”
On the field, the first team is still ‘punching above its weight’ in the West Midlands Regional League Premier Division – the tenth tier of English football – competing against teams paying their players up to £100 game.
Supporters are also turning out in force with more than 100 people at every home game and arguably the strongest away following in the league.
While Chris said he would like to see the club promoted to the next league, he added he did not want to see Malvern Town lose its local feel and pull in players from all over the country for the sake of promotion.
He added: “The most important thing we have done is legitimised the club and relaunched it with a stronger identity than it had before. You could almost call it the new Malvern Town.
“It’s very time intensive running an organisation like this and we would not have met our ambitions without our volunteer team.”