New Yeovil Town director Stuart Robins has said a return to the Football League is his top priority.
The businessman, who has been a season ticket holder at Huish Park for the past 15 seasons, joined the board last month alongside chairman Scott Priestnall
Speaking to the club’s YouTube channel about his first month at the club, said he was also targeting making the club financially self-sustainable and said the sale of Huish Park and surrounding land to South Somerset District Council had given the club “a framework to build on.”
Robins said: “There’s two main objectives and the first is to get us back in to the Football League as quickly as we can. I would love to think we can do it this year, but that is putting an awful lot of pressure on Chris and his team.
“The other thing is to make sure the club is self-sustainable going forward and we are looking to do that as quickly as possible.
“The transaction with the council has been key to that and has given us the framework to build on and to make the club totally self-sustainable.”
He spoke about the need to increase season ticket sales and acknowledged that this could only be achieved by winning matches.
There were no details around any plans for other people to the club’s board despite Priestnall saying he was having “a number of conversations with people” about joining the board two months ago.
But, the new director did say that plans were afoot to improve the experience at Huish Park, assisted by the lifting of covenants on the ground lifted by the sale to SSDC.
He said: “There are plans to make a fan’s area behind the Thatcher’s Stand to create a nicer environment with other things going on, with the help of one of our sponsors, Thatcher’s, and make it more accessible to people. As well as other places around the ground.”
This week the club posted on its social media feed that a contractor had been hired to clean the outside of the stadium, publicly thanking the Green & White Supporters’ Club, the club’s official supporters’ group.
🧼 Stadium improvements are underway at Huish Park, with Helliar in this morning cleaning the stadium exterior.
— Yeovil Town F.C. (@YTFC) June 28, 2022
Stuart Robins added: “We are working closely with the Green & Whites Supporters’ Club to make an environment for their members because they have been huge supporters of the club.
“One thing I didn’t realise is how much work they do to help the club on a voluntary basis. One of my aims to do all we can to help them to help us because they are incredibly loyal and supportive.”
When he was appointed last month, the club described the new director, whose uncle is former club chairman Gerry Lock, and daughter is BBC Somerset commentator Sheridan Robins, as having “significant experience in growing and developing successful businesses” predominantly in the telecommunications business.
In his interview, he admitted it had taken him “some time to get my feet under the table” and said he had “no idea how complex running a business like a football club would be.”
He said: “It’s taken me some time to get my feet under the table and in particular all the stakeholders which you don’t tend to have in a standard business.
“One of the key ones is supporters or what we’d call ‘the customers’ in business terms. Everybody is so emotionally involved and I have been for most of my life – some good, some not so good.
“So getting to understand the requirements of those stakeholders, both supporters and the wider community (is important).
“The integration and relationship with the other groups, particularly Disabled Supporters’ Association, the Yeovil Town Community Sports Trust, what we are doing with schools, are really important for the immediate and long term success of the football club.”
On the pitch he said he believed new manager Chris Hargreaves was doing “an incredible job in producing a team that will compete” with strikers Malachi Linton and Ollie Hulbert having been added to a number of players retained from last season.
Of the new boss, he said: “Understanding (Chris’) motivations are and how he works has been quite fascinating, he is clearly a true professional and looks like he is developing to squad which can get us back where we belong.”
The director also stated his ambition to re-open the club’s Academy upon its promotion to the Football League and hailed the achievements of the club’s Under-18s coach, Matt Percival, following the signing of youth team product Ollie Haste on a professional contract.
The Gloverscast recently spoke with Matt about the work of the Under-18s and the partnership with Yeovil College through its Elite Player Development Programme (EPDP) which you can listen to – here.
Robins added: “One of the critical aims of getting in the League is we will put back together the Academy and further develop that community feel, but we can only do that when we get back in to the EFL and get the funding to do that.
“The relationship with Yeovil College is critical and hopefully Matt can help unearth more talent, like Ollie, for the club.
“Hopefully it gives other young people in the local area an incentive to want to come and be part of the club because that’s our future – not just them, their entire family because we need everyone we can in to the club to support the team and therefore support the community.”
In July 2020, the club closed its Academy after failing to return to the Football League at its first attempt in the 2019-20 season and losing the funding it received to support the set-up.
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