latest news, january 2007

Terras in crisis as Hill axed
By Paul Greaves

Wednesday 10th January 2007

WEYMOUTH Football Club is in crisis today after the players and management team were told they would be axed to save the club from financial ruin.

Manager Garry Hill, coach Kevin Hales and the entire squad of players have been released or transfer-listed by club chairman Martyn Harrison.

Mr Harrison said the decision was taken as part of a major financial 'restructuring' of the club.

Club captain Ben Smith said 'shocked' players were told the news by the manager at training yesterday.

In a statement issued by the club Mr Harrison said: 'Weymouth FC is an important part of a wider business and for almost two years I have devoted considerable time and resources to rebuilding the club to ensure its long-term future.

'This has proved to be enormously difficult and has placed considerable pressure on both myself and my other businesses.

'Following a review of all our activities, I have concluded the best way to achieve the original goal of a sustainable football club is to restructure, set new challenging but realistic goals for the future and operate very much more in line with the income we are able to generate'.

It is believed Mr Harrison told the board about his decision yesterday morning. Full details of the restructuring are expected to be announced at a press conference held by the club this morning at 11am.

Mr Harrison added: 'The plans we have for the redevelopment of the club encountered setbacks last year, but we are working on a revised strategy that I believe will offer up a sustainable future for Weymouth FC.

'I continue to view this initiative as vital for our future.

'In the weeks ahead there will be a number of changes that will place us in a better position to give the club the future it needs, as well as the ability to maintain financial self-reliance.

'I am working closely with the board and management to ensure that these changes take place as soon as possible.

'It will be a painful time for us as it is likely that there will be changes in the squad as well as some personnel at the Wessex Stadium.

'I appreciate the irony of these changes coming at a time when we are enjoying success, but it is imperative that achievements are delivered in a sustainable manner.

'I believe that now is the right time to make the changes that will give us the long-term future we need.' Garry Hill's axing comes despite a successful period for the club with him at the helm.

The former Dagenham and Redbridge manager took the reigns at the Wessex Stadium in March 2005, replacing Steve Johnson.

Mr Hill won the Conference South title with the Terras last season, and oversaw the club's switch to a new full-time professional set-up.

He had led the club to seventh in the Nationwide Conference this term following their promotion.

But now Mr Hill and his right-hand man Mr Hales have been 'relieved from their duties' in an apparent cost-cutting exercise.

Weymouth captain Ben Smith said the players received the news at training yesterday, 24 hours before they were due to fly to Spain for a mid-season break.

"I can honestly say I didn't see this coming at all," he said.

"I signed a new contract three weeks ago and the club is enjoying one of its best seasons ever.

"Nobody said very much. I don't know when the manager met the chairman or the reasons he gave him for the decision - we are all in the dark.

"I've spoken to a few players on the phone and they are all completely shocked."

Staff at Mr Harrison's Hollybush Hotels group said that the company had not suffered any financial problems.

Hollybush press officer Matthew Jobson said: "I think you need to talk to Martyn Harrison about this but Hollybush are far from having any form of financial difficulties."

Mr Harrison was unavailable for comment early today.


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