06:30PM, Thursday 16 June 2022
Most supporters welcomed the return of Mick Woodham to the Windsor fold this week after he was revealed as Mark Cooper's replacement on Monday morning.
Woodham, who twice led the club to Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy success in his first stint as boss and took the Royalists on memorable runs in the FA Vase, jumped at the chance to return to the Stag Meadow dug-out, while Kevin Stott - the club's owner - called the move a 'no brainer'.
However, Stott was also forced to confront comments made by the club's departing manager that Windsor had 'no ambition'.
Cooper revealed last week that he had a substantial bid to buy the club turned down by Stott, shortly before he decided to end his own three-season tenure as manager. He would have liked to have invested a little more money on the squad to help Windsor challenge for promotion, adding that he believed the club had the stature to play at step three or even step two.
This won't be possible for him at Stag Meadow, however, Cooper is exploring his options for taking over another, as yet unnamed, club.
Speaking this week, Stott said: “Mark and I have had this conversation many times but the single biggest influence of performance at this level of football is money.
“If you throw enough money at a club, chances are you will get promoted. The number one core value is sustainability and for me, if the club can self-generate the money to fund a budget, then there is no resistance to put that into a playing squad.
“But, right now, we are not in that position and from my perspective, I have a responsibility to try and make the club sustainable.
“Let’s say at step five, if you threw £100,000 at a club for 40 weeks, you could probably get all the best players and probably get promoted. But then you are in a bit of a, what I call, ‘race to the bottom’ financially. You sit down next summer, and the manager asks, ‘what are our ambitions?’ for this year. Then you’ve got to increase that. If the club isn’t funding itself, then you are solely reliant on a benefactor and that’s always a tricky game. Benefactors disappear for all sorts of reasons.”
Stott is keen for Windsor to put the infrastructure in place for the club to generate its own funds, rather than having to dip into his own pocket each season to cover losses or bail the club out financially. He believes Ascot United, and in particular, Dorking Wanderers, are good examples of how this can be done.
“I don't really know enough, but if you take Ascot, I understand they are running a budget and my belief is that it will be one of the best next year,” he said. “I think their business model from the outside looks like they can create and sustain that. Once you can get a 3G up and running properly, that’s going to generate a decent amount of money to fund a budget.
“It’s not just that, it’s also people coming down and using the bar, having the knock-on effect of catering. It’s all those things. You get into a virtuous circle then.
“Dorking Wanderers is a wonderful example of that. I observe that from afar and think ‘wow, amazing ride’ but at some point, it will get to the stage where they can’t fund it anymore to get to the next step. For me, that’s all fine but the club in my opinion needs to be as self-funding as possible, especially community clubs.
“For me, ambition is getting every ounce of success out of the resources you’ve got, rather than the resources you haven’t got. Even at the highest level, Manchester City and Chelsea, I think there was some stat that came out, in the last 10 years they have lost £1.5bn. It is a lot of money. That’s because one is effectively run by a country and the other is funded by an oligarch. That’s all fine and dandy but if you try and get in a race to compete with that, you can’t win.
“On a smaller scale, that works at every level. If a multi-millionaire came in at Step 5 and threw money at it, chances are you will be successful.
“For me, as I say, ambition is doing the best with what you’ve got or being the best with the resources that you have rather than perhaps constantly worrying about what you don’t have.”
An independent report into a Conservative councillor has found a breach of the Royal Borough’s code of conduct in a document seen by the Advertiser.