‘The news came as such a shock’ – Bury Town boss Richard Wilkins

Richard Wilkins

Richard Wilkins - Credit: Archant

Bury Town boss, Richard Wilkins, admits that the recent revelations regarding the West Suffolk club’s financial difficulties have come as a “kick in the teeth.”

Wilkins is currently in his 14th season with the Blues, and has gradually improved the club’s standing over the years, to their present position as an established Ryman League Premier Division outfit.

But although his team continues to perform impressively on the pitch – they were unbeaten throughout the month of December, with five wins and two draws – the club has struggled to pay players’ wages since November.

Regular first teamers Shane Tolley, David Bridges and Ryan Semple have all left the club in recent weeks, and it will be a huge ask for Wilkins to keep the Blues in the top 10 over the coming weeks, with a wafer-thin squad.

“This has been a difficult one for me. It’s been a kick in the teeth,” admitted Wilkins last night.

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“The news came as such a shock, to me and to everyone else. I suddenly thought – ‘oh crickey.’

“Obviously the long-term future of the club comes first. It’s not easy, but these things happen in football.

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“It’s a big shame, but these things happen to bigger clubs than ourselves. We have to push on and make things better.

“It’s a good time to sit down and think where the club is going to be going in the future, what sort of system and structure it takes.

“I’ve been at the club for the last 14 seasons, building up the squad after a slow start to a sustainable level.

“But now we learn of these financial issues. I’m not going to duck anything, but I will have to look at myself in the future and see whether I can rebuild it again,” added Wilkins.

Former Cambridge United and Colchester United midfielder Wilkins, who has been at Ram Meadow since 2000, has been powerless to see three of his mainstays of the team leave.

Front-runner Tolley signed for St Neots Town before Christmas, while midfielder Bridges (Brackley Town) and Semple (Boston United) have both moved up a tier to Skrill Conference North clubs.

“They have all gone to clubs in a higher division, or at the same level, which says a lot,” continued Wilkins.

“The accumulation of quite a few things has obviously led to the current situation. Getting knocked out of the FA Cup did not help, though it’s always a calculated risk not to leave a possible cup run out of the budget.

“We did get a little money for John Sands (to Canvey Island), but obviously we have suffered from falling attendances, like most other clubs.

“We’d like to be getting 600 or 700 through the turnstiles, but everyone is feeling the pinch. We have tried to sustain ourselves at this level, but now we are playing catch-up.

“And you can’t really say for definite that no other players will leave, because that’s what happens in football – players move on.

“I hope that doesn’t happen, but two or three more could easily move on, because most of the squad is made up of non-contract players.

“We have a lack of depth in our squad, so it will be very difficult to maintain our position in the league.

“Of course we have won games in the last month, without Shane (Tolley) and David (Bridges), and when Ryan (Semple) was suspended, but I’m not fooling myself that this will carry on, indefinitely.

“I have never been afraid to give the youngsters an opportunity, but it’s a not easy for a 16-year-old or 17-year-old striker to be playing against seasoned defenders in the Ryman League.”

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