AFC TOTTON boss Steve Riley has every faith in chairman Andy Straker to lead the Stags towards a brighter future.
The financial troubles of the struggling Calor Southern League outfit came back under the spotlight last week when it emerged they are in preliminary partnership talks with Totton College which could result in them selling the Testwood Stadium to the college and renting it back.
That prompted a response from Testwood Park Limited – a company headed by former Totton & Eling chairman Ed Holmes – who say that selling the “crown jewels” is not the answer and are urging Straker to talk to them about their own proposal to restructure the club and make it profitable.
But Straker is wary of TPL’s motives and has reiterated that he and the club membership wouldn’t consider letting anyone take control who “hasn’t got the best interests of AFC Totton at heart.”
Calmore-based Straker – regional organiser of trade union UNISON – started supporting Totton after moving down from Aldershot nine years ago. Until last summer he had no intention of being anything other than a fan, but he stepped in as chairman, initially on an interim basis, when the Stags were in financial turmoil last summer. Totton still have a sizeable debt to clear and TPL have questioned the ability of the elected executive committee to oversee the financial and day-to-day management of the club. But team boss Riley has nothing but respect for Straker for taking on the chairmanship at such a difficult time.
“Andy’s gone from being a loyal AFC Totton supporter to chairman and people should give him a bit of credit,” he said. “It’s all too easy to fire shots at people without knowing what they’ve inherited from the past regime.
“Andy is trying to fight the club’s cause. He’s not doing it for himself, he’s doing it for AFC Totton. He’s not interested in the ground, he’s focused on being chairman and he’s doing a very good job in difficult circumstances.”
The club executive committee confirmed that discussions with Totton College are ongoing.
“Our main objective over the coming months is to secure the future of AFC Totton as a whole for the players, members and fans,” said a club statement.
Totton – home to title challengers Chesham today – remain one off the foot of the Calor Southern Premier Division, nine points shy of fourth-to-bottom safety.