02:00PM, Saturday 19 June 2021
While ‘disgusted’ by the independent appeal panel’s decision to uphold the club’s fine for failing to fulfil fixtures last season, Neil Baker said he and Jon Underwood would be using it as fuel to ‘get back at a few people’ next season.
The Rebels have been fined £8,000, and given a suspended points penalty, for refusing to play four league fixtures prior to the campaign being cancelled and declared null and void.
It’s a blow for the club who released a statement this week talking of their collective sense of ‘injustice’, but Baker said this week he wouldn’t harp on about it and would look ahead to a more positive future, rather than reflect on what’s been a ‘torrid’ 16 months.
He said the decision to fine the club had soured relationships with people at the league and rival clubs, but hopes everyone can now move on and is looking forward to a return to normality – as well as the return of fans – next season.
“I could talk for an hour about the National League and the relationships in the National League that have been soured,” said Baker.
“But that probably gives me and Jon motivation for next season.
“We’re upset with a number of people, and we want to go out and perform because that’s the way you get back at people.
“It’s been a bad period, but we have to move on now and look forward to life without COVID.
“Whilst I think it’s disgusting; I’m not going to harp on about it. As a club we’re going to have to try and deal with it. We’re going to look forward and not back because if we look back, it’s on the worst 15/16 months of most people’s lives. Let’s look forward with a bit of hope and hopefully we can have a good season.”
Slough always felt they had ‘just cause’ not to play the fixtures, with mandatory testing for COVID-19 not in place and loans, rather than grants, being offered to clubs to continue playing matches behind closed doors.
However, the appeals board sided with the league rather than the clubs on the matter and the sanctions stand.
The Rebels will now look to move on from the whole sorry affair, with the first of their pre-season friendly matches taking place against Badshot Lea on July 3. The squad for the new season has already started to take shape, but Baker admitted he and Underwood were open to the possibility of making more signings.
“We’re not a million miles away, but we’re also not done,” he said.
“We want to look at the younger lads and give them an opportunity and see what happens. It’s one of those where we’re not going to sit there and say we’re done, and we’re open (to more arrivals) but we’re also on a budget and we’ve got to make that go as far as we can. We’re happy with the players we’ve brought in, they’re all really good characters and that’s what we’re going to be this year.”
Once again Slough won’t be one of the league’s bigger spenders this summer, but Baker hopes the character and work ethic of the players they have in the squad will enable them to be competitive in every single game they play.
“I look at some of the sides, the players they’re bringing in and the money they’re spending, and we can’t try to live with that,” he said. “But what we can do is try to put together a side that’s going to work hard and want to be at the club.
“We’ll win some games and lose some games, but the aim is to be competitive in every game. There are a number of sides who will be pushing for the two promotion spots. But that’s also where we’ll set our ambitions and we’ll try to be in and around that. It’s going to be a big ask but we’ve always enjoyed that challenge.”