Bill Clifford is passionate about driving Worthing United Football Club forward after taking over as chairman last week.
Clifford was confirmed as Mavericks’ new chairman on Thursday to replace Steve Taylor, who is set to take over as chairman of another Southern Combination Football League club. Formerly manager of Montpelier Villa, Hurstpierpoint and Portslade Athletic, Clifford was manager of United’s under-21 side last season.
Mavericks struggled on the pitch last year as they finished second from bottom in the SCFL Premier Division and the club are waiting to hear which division they will be in this coming season.
The SCFL AGM is next month and with league restructuring going on, United could get a reprieve and stay in the top division.
Clifford would love United to be challenging at the top end of the SCFL in years to come but says the infrastructure of the club would have to be right first.
He said: “If we go down, our aim will be to get back up again.
“There’s none of this we’ll go down for a couple of years and consolidate thinking, we’ll try to get back up straight away.
“We want to improve year on year, on and off the pitch.
“I wouldn’t be interested in doing this if it was just to tick things over, I don’t operate that way. I need something to get my teeth stuck into.
“In five years, we would like to think it would not be unrealistic to be in a position challenging at the top of the table.
“We accept the model of the way in which the club works needs to be changed in order for that to happen, not least with the finances but let’s see how we get on.
“I’m very excited to get going.”
United secretary Mark Sanderson feels Clifford can take United forward as a club and said: “We’ve got 20-odd teams in our youth section, 200-plus players and had teams at under-18 and under-21 plus the first team last season.
“We’re a massive club and I’ve always felt a sleeping giant.
“Bill is a very ambitious man and I don’t think he would enter into this without having some firm plans in place and a target to aim at to take the club forward, grow and for us to play at the best standard we can.”
With so many youngsters at the club, Sanderson is keen for them to progress at United, rather than move on elsewhere.
He said: “Last season we had six of our under-18s play in the first team and a couple of 16-year-olds even. We’ve got a large pool of players coming through and under previous regimes, they would get to 17 and go to Arundel, Lancing, East Preston, or wherever.
“Now we’re trying to keep them and generate our own resources in terms of players.
“We don’t pay our players, unlike most clubs in the division.
“Our philosophy is to breed our own and that’s the way we’re going to progress.
“That’s why we want to play at the highest possible level to match their ambitions because we’ve got some super talented young players here.”
Club sponsor Peter Saywell added: “Bill’s come here full of ambition to help the club move up the ladder, whatever league we may be in.
"I love being involved at Worthing United and also with the Arun & Chichester Youth League, where I am lifetime president.
“I’m looking forward to the new season with great excitement, some anticipation and everyone is very passionate about moving forward.”
Matt Evans will again be Mavericks’ first-team manager next season, working alongside Mark Currier (assistant) and Nathan Bowen (coach).
United will not run an under-23 side or ladies team in the coming campaign but will look at having both again for the 2019/20 season.