Malvern Town Football Club
Little more than a year ago, Chris Pinder never dreamed he might be running a football club. Today he’s busy supervising refurbishment work at the ground of Malvern Town Football Club, ahead of the new season. As the club’s Managing Director, he’s hoping a new era is about to begin.
‘I’ve played football since I was seven or eight, but I had no background or experience other than playing’ says Chris. ‘When I first read the club was on the brink of closure I came and looked, and thought actually, there’s so much potential here.’
Chris moved to Malvern around six years ago and runs an HD video streaming technology business here. As soon as the idea formed in his head to potentially take over the club, he approached his friend and former football team-mate Ted Grizzell, who previously worked as an Academy Coach at West Bromwich Albion and in community coaching in Worcestershire. ‘I didn’t want to form a new company to take over the club without him having ownership as well’ says Chris. ‘His contribution is as much as mine.’
Chris has a three point plan for Malvern Town to succeed – firstly, to make sure the sports side of the club is running at its best, with good coaching in place. Secondly, to make sure the club’s finances remain healthy, and thirdly to improve the physical infrastructure from the club’s buildings to its pitch, which has just been reseeded with grass specially formulated to be tough and fast growing. ‘It needs constant mowing by Rocket Ron the groundsman!’ laughs Chris.
Around the club, both volunteers and local companies are busy painting, refurbishing and re-wiring the buildings. ‘I was putting a new roof on the changing rooms last week with the help of some of the players’ says Chris. ‘It’s a new start here. Anybody disenchanted with football at the top flight should come down here and enjoy our matches’.
‘In order to save the club we brokered a deal with a supportive Malvern Hills District Council who purchased the ground and leased it back to the club’ continues Chris. ‘This is on the understanding that in return, an investment would be made by us and other sponsors to refurbish and renew the Stadium.’
The Club has registered as a not-for-profit Community Interest Company, this means that its assets and its profits must be used for the benefit of the community. ‘People weren’t sure of our motives’ says Chris, ‘so setting it up as a Community Interest Company demonstrates we’re not actually profiting from our investment or involvement.’
So why take it on, was it the challenge of the business? ‘Probably yes’ says Chris, ‘That whole process of turning something around with potential that was on its last legs and swiftly regenerating it definitely appealed to me. I wanted to test my skills. I thought the whole thing would be enjoyable, and it is. It’s equally stressful, but I get a lot of satisfaction just from looking around here, sitting on this new deck we’ve built and seeing painting work going on and the new pitch. I’m excited about what we can achieve here.’
With the team going into a new season of the West Midlands Regional League, Chris exudes nothing but optimism as to what they might achieve. ‘Over the years the team has punched above its weight’ he says, ‘and they’ve been promoted into higher leagues.’ After a little bit of checking on his iPhone, Chris calculates the club is only five promotions away from the Conference or six away from League Two. While that would take a superhuman effort from everybody involved, Chris would dearly love to see large crowds at the ground on Langland Avenue once again.
‘All the old supporters regularly tell me stories of thousands of people watching Malvern play Worcester City’ he says. ‘It would be great to get that back, even a couple of hundred people in a ground like this makes a difference to the team on the pitch. If we could win every game at home because of strong support, we’ve got a good chance of getting up the league.’
Malvern Town will also compete in the FA Vase, in the first round they are drawn at home to Walsall Wood on Saturday 6th September. As well as the First Team, the club has a Ladies team as well as Under-18 and Under-21 sides. As part of the strategy to getting people back to watch games, season tickets are being offered at £40 per half season, or at a concessionary rate of £30, which allows admission to all home games.
‘It’s a new start down here’ says Chris, gazing out across the pitch, ‘there’s a new atmosphere and we want to welcome everyone.’
For match fixtures and club information, see www.malverntown.co.uk or call the club on (01684) 574068.
There is also a mobile phone text subscription service for free text updates on games, simply text ‘MTFC’ to 60777, texts can be stopped at any time by replying with a text saying ‘STOP’. Terms and conditions can be obtained from the club.