LONG is the way and hard that leads up to light. It is not often that you get to quote John Milton in a report on Grays Athletic but in a meeting last night, Grays Chief Executive Andy Swallow announced a new structure and outlined several new plans for the club away from Bridge Road come saturday at 5pm.
The new structure will see an amalgam between the established CEO and Chairman Jon Moncur and the engine room of the Supporters Trust with Tony Packer as Treasurer and Val Pepperell as Secretary.
The club have conceded that they may have to slip down two, three or indeed four divisions depending on a host of factors. The same applies to where the club plays with recent negotiations with Dartford, East Thurrock, Tilbury as well as Thurrock Harriers.
The meeting was told that the Billings will also put £700,000 into a trust fund for a new ground on the proviso that it is used within three years or it will be spent on other sports facilities in the borough.
Mr Swallow then committed to putting £40,000 into the club’s playing budget at the start of a new season.
In optimistic mood, the Trust members then agreed a ticket price structure for next season based on being in the Ryman Premier. Season ticket prices will £150, £100 concessions. The gate price will be £10, £7 concessions, £4 for youngsters, under 14’s free and the club is hoping to sell 100 season tickets early to aid its cashflow.
Life President Glyn Jarvis confirmed that he would head up a team determined to find a permanent home for the club in Grays. He confirmed that they had some positive leads with a senior council representative “very interested in helping the presence of the club and a stadium in the borough.” but according to Mr Jarvis he was met with a less then welcoming response from the Portfolio Holder for Sport.
Mr Jarvis said: “I asked her how she felt about Grays in Blackshots and she looked me in the eye and said “I don’t want you there, the council doesn’t want you there and the people do not want you there.”
Fans welcomed the news and conceded that it would be disappointing if the club tumbles down to the Essex Senior League but it was literally better than nothing.
What league the club will be in was called into question.
Current Grays secretary Joel Nathan, who steps down from his post after Saturday’s game, also told the meeting that the club had been accepted into the Ryman Premier and he had assurances from a telephone conversation with Ryman secretary Bruce Badcock on Tuesday afternoon.
However, Mr Badcock confirmed to the Essex Enquirer that he had only once spoken to a representative of Grays about the club’s recent affairs, when he spoke to them in March about procedural matters should Grays resign from the Conference.
He categorically denied speaking to Grays about an application to the Ryman this week and that in any case, the matter of where Grays will be placed in the non-league pyramid will be decided by the Football Association’s League committee.
Ryman League chairman Alan Turvey also confirmed that Grays have not been ‘accepted’ into the Ryman structure, adding: “We couldn’t do that even if we wanted to because it is not in our power to do so. There will be meetings of the main contributory leagues about movement of clubs when all relegation and promotion issues have been settled and those meetings will make recommendations but they do not make the decisions.
“As far as Grays is concerned, as I understand it, at the moment they do not have a ground and that will be a priority. With Ryman rules any ground-sharing agreement would have to be submitted in detail by May 31 and ratified by the board.”