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INTERVIEW: Look at a number of factors

17 May 2013

John Nixon on coaching staff contracts

Managing director John Nixon today revealed that talks with manager Greg Abbott and his coaching staff about new one-year contracts had been ongoing for almost ten months following an initial offer made in July, ahead of the start of last season.

“Some of the stuff we have heard from outside sources over the last few weeks has been very wide of the mark,” he said.

“Just to clarify matters, an offer of a further year for the first team coaching staff was agreed in principle at a board meeting last July. At that time we were fully aware that the group were heading into the final year of their current deals.” 

“It then took us something like five months to agree the finer details with the LMA (League Manager’s Association) and, during that time, matters changed somewhat for the club, both on and off the field,” he continued.

“That meant we all had to sit down again to review the numbers which had been put into the original offer. The management team were as aware as anybody that a lot of the work done behind the scenes since the back end of last year has been to make sure we can sustain the business going forward, and these talks became part of that.” 

“We left the finalisation of the figures until the end of the season because the focus for everybody had to be on getting the results we needed at the end of what had been a difficult campaign,” he told us.

“I think with any decision like this we have a responsibility to look at the longer term. We know that results on the pitch and performances here at home caused concern for the fans, and there is an absolute acknowledgement of that.

“So, we have had to look at where we are and what we’ve achieved as a club, and we also use what other clubs have done as real-time examples to help us with any decisions we make. This season we’ve seen over 50% of the managers at our Football League clubs lose their jobs and that brings with it a period of uncertainty. 

“We’ve all seen what has happened with teams like Wolves, who were relegated despite making a number of recent changes, and there is Blackburn who managed to claw their way away from it all by the skin of their teeth. The flip side of that are those clubs who stuck with their manager only to be relegated anyway. That shows that it isn’t an easy decision to come to at all.”
“We look at a number of factors as a board and we also have to acknowledge that we have a manager, at the moment, who has been with the club since 2006,” he said. “He knows the level, he knows the club and he knows how we have to work to keep things moving forward. 

“He has a desire and ambition to get us into the Championship and he showed through last season that he also has the determination to do what it takes to deal with what was a very tough situation, in terms of turning round the results we were seeing through the early and middle part of the season.”

“It’s important for us to take a few steps back and look at that period since 2006 as a whole,” he said. “We know that there are huge differences of opinion out there as soon as a season like the one we’ve just had raises its head. 

“What we didn’t know back in July was that our main striker would be injured and out of action for almost half the season. That one incident did have a negative affect on the playing side of things and we found it difficult to recover.  

“What we also know is that Greg [Abbott] has done a lot of work on training schedules, recruitment and scouting, particularly over the last two seasons, and he has systems in place designed to drive us forward. 

“We have very clear boundaries with how far we can go with budgets this year, and we are clear on where we expect to be as a club, so we will all know as we go along how we are measuring up to those targets. 

“It will be a much more difficult job for the management team going forward than it ever has been in the past. We can argue cause and effect with the attendance figures – the performances have not been good so the crowds are down – and we found ourselves in a situation where we had to cut the cloth accordingly. 

“But Greg and his team understand that and they are comfortable they can work within the constraints we have at the club to strive to produce a successful team and a successful season for us all.”

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