After five years at the helm, Mike Smith has resigned as Chairman of Woking due to ‘personal reasons’.
In a statement on the club website, Smith said: ‘As a volunteer and a supporter of Woking Football Club since 1990, I have decided, for personal reasons, that the time is now right, and that it would be in the best interests of the club for me to step down as Chairman and a Director, effective from midnight on Saturday, 30th April, 2016.’
You can read the full statement here.
At times this season, the Woking board have come under scrutiny from fans and perhaps the resignation of Smith doesn’t come as much of a surprise. First the admission prices were increased to £18 from £15, which was followed by a strong statement about swearing at home games. This prompted stricter stewarding, with some fans feeling alienated by the club. The increase in ticket prices was possibly a reaction to the club making £450k worth of unexplained losses last season.
A potential takeover seemed to be handled poorly, with the potential investor eventually getting frustrated and having to leak information to the press. Majority shareholder Peter Jordan announced that he would be resigning from the board ahead of the new year, but then the club issued a statement saying he would not be resigning.
Following Woking’s 1-0 home defeat by Guiseley, players and management locked themselves in the dressing room and refused to speak to the media. It was then revealed that the dispute was over the players’ bonuses. A promise that they would receive a bonus was changed to only if they finished in the play-offs.
At the club’s AGM it was said that next season the management team might have to work with a ‘reduced budget’ from the current 300k budget. This sparked speculation amongst fans that the 2016-17 season would entail a ‘Conference South budget’ or a ‘relegation budget’. In an interview with The Non-League Paper, Smith said that the rumours of a ‘Conference South budget’ were ‘tosh’. However, he also said that he didn’t know whether Peter Jordan or Chris Ingram would continue funding the club.
After the turn of the year, Garry Hill has seemed to have become, at times, frustrated in post-match interviews at not having any indication of what his budget for next season would be. In Saturday’s end-of-season programme interview with Brian Caffarey, Hill said that he still didn’t know what the planned playing budget would be.
With Smith now gone, it is a chance for Woking to seek financial investment, fresh ideas and a new direction for the future to enable the club to keep Garry Hill and Steve Thompson.
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