Dereham chief hopes to emerge stronger after pandemic

UEA joins forces with Dereham Town Football Club. Ashley Bunn (Dereham FC chairman) Pictures: BRITT

Dereham Town chairman Ashley Bunn believes there is a bright future on the horizon for those connected to Aldiss Park. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

Dereham Town chairman Ashley Bunn wants the Magpies to emerge from the pandemic as a stronger, healthier football club. 

Whilst many commentators worry about the future for many non-league clubs, the Magpies have tried to use the break to take stock and ensure they are ready to hit the ground running when football returns. 

Dereham are expecting the current season to be cancelled and have tentatively been given a start date by the Isthmian League of August 14 for the new campaign. 

Bunn hopes that can be confirmed as soon as possible so clubs like Dereham can plan accordingly. 

“The league are putting it forward to the FA council and we are now waiting for the confirmation that the season will be ended,” Bunn told the club’s YouTube channel. “That indecision is the killer. We are waiting for that confirmation and then we can plan again. 

“We’ve really tried to embrace it (the lockdown). It’s given us a bit of time to breathe and think what do we want to stand for. 

“There’s not a lot we can do in certain things so it’s been nice to sit and plan. As a football cub we are in as good a position as we could have been. 

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“We don’t have huge outgoings so we are in a healthy position. It’s trying to embrace those positives.” 

Dereham last played a competitive game on October 31, a 5-0 loss to Mickleover Sports, but grants and their structure off the pitch have allowed the Magpies to absorb the impact of no football being played. 

“When it all started we had to put the football club first,” he added. “Luckily there has been funding from Sport England and now the Winter Survival package (via the Football Foundation) that’s now come out. 

“For us I’m hopeful that we are going to come out stronger than we went into it.  

“We don’t have a huge playing budget – it's about producing our own and developing players. You can see that with the side we put out. 

“We don’t have one main sponsor or one person financing the club. We have lots of little sponsors which is a strength at the moment. 

“When we come out of this then I think we will be in an even stronger position because we can harness those relationships further. Our financial model has protected us as much as anything could have.” 

Once confirmation comes through of a start date for the 2021/22 season, joint managers Adam Gusterson and Olly Willis will set about forming their squad. 

“The contracts we’ve got with some players, which is very few as it’s not the model we go down, all have an option of another year,” said Bunn. “Gus and Olly will then be working on additions as we move forward.”