New Wrexham FC boss: 'I am my own man'

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

THE new boss of Wrexham FC is adamant he will be his own man when it comes to running things at The Racecourse.

And Jon Harris strongly rejects suggestions that financial backer Colin Poole will be in any way controlling the business.

Speaking exclusively to the Leader the day after taking the helm at the troubled football club, its former commercial director said: “I am going to be my own man.
“If any strings are pulled here it’s going to be at my request.”

Since the announcement that Mr Harris had clinched the takeover deal with former owners Geoff Moss and Ian Roberts, Shropshire millionaire Mr Poole has been the focus of barbed comments about his previous business affairs.

It is known he has given an undertaking to the DTI that he will not not act as a director of a business.

Mr Harris said: “The criticism he has been coming in for is really unfair.

“He is a very successful businessman and the ins and outs of what went on 10 years ago are there for everyone to see.

“I know him and worked with him at Shrewsbury Town.

“I’ve got a good reputation in football and working with Colin can only enhance that reputation, not tarnish it.

“He will be working with the club purely on a consultancy basis and is at the end of a phone when I need him.

“We haven’t put a figure on the extent of his financial involvement with the club.

“Together we will work out details of our long-term plan – and that is footballing success.”

Questions have also been asked about the detail of the deal done on Monday.

Mr Harris said while he had bought the football club and Colliers Park training ground for just £1, he had agreed a “time-plan” to buy The Racecourse ground.

He explained: “Every one of the bidders was offered the opportunity to purchase the stadium within five years, and I have taken up that option.

“A valuation was recently done on the ground and Colliers Park and a figure of £1.5 million was put on the ground, so that is the figure we will be aiming to raise.”

Mr Harris stressed he has no plans for The Racecourse other than to stage football.

“Everything we do will have a football pedigree.

“We are not going to the bankrupt the club.

“The aim is to be financially prudent and successful on the pitch.”

Asked to be more specific about the cash available for developing the club, Mr Harris declined to give any figures.

But he said: “There will be a budget for football and another for non-football activities.

“The football budget will be a very competitive one and brought within manageability.

“We will not feel embarrassed alongside other clubs.”

Pressed on where the money would be coming from, Mr Harris said it would mainly come from income generation rather than the “begging bowl”.

He said: “The trouble with the begging bowl is you have to pay it back.

“We are aiming to get our income from things such as match-day revenue and matchday hospitality.

“There will also be non-match revenue sources such as using the excellent facilities at the stadium for conferences and meetings Monday to Friday.

“We are looking to attract people who have never seen Wrexham FC play before and at making the place more attractive for families.

“We will be using the fact The Racecourse is the oldest international stadium in the world.”

He added: “In the 12 or 13 months I have been here I have identified the areas where the club has been vulnerable in terms of the financial drain and will be working on these areas.

“Part of the plan is also to repay the £200,000 loan we had to settle the outstanding tax bill.”

Despite the criticism the deal has attracted, Mr Harris said: “We’ve also had some really nice, positive feedback from Wrexham supporters.

“A number of questions about the takeover have been posed on the Red Passion website and I will be answering these in full.”

Mr Harris also spoke of being “desperate” to sit down with Wrexham Supporters’ Trust, which has led criticism of the deal, to speak about its involvement in the club’s future.

He restated his intention to offer the Trust a seat on the board, explaining: “They have got a massive part to play in this football club.”

Mr Harris added: “This is the bravest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

“It’s exciting and I’m confident in my own ability – but I am going to be my own man.”

See full story in the Leader

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