Building for the future

BACK AT THE HELM: Phil Turner's third spell as AFC Sudbury chairman sees the club looking ahead and poised for major developments

BACK AT THE HELM: Phil Turner's third spell as AFC Sudbury chairman sees the club looking ahead and poised for major developments

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Phil Turner is back for his third spell as chairman of AFC Sudbury, with the club set for some major developments in the coming months.

His third term of office has been given a perfect start by the team, with victories in their opening two Ryman League North games, 5-1 at Cray on Saturday, followed by a 1-0 win against Wroxham at home on Tuesday.

“These are exciting times at the club,” said Turner.

“We are looking at launching our own academy in September next year, and we are getting a report next week on the possibility of making the main pitch a 3G pitch.”

Turner was chairman in 1999 when AFC were formed after Sudbury Town and Sudbury Wanderers merged. He then moved to Pembroke for 10 years, but still kept his links with the new club and became chairman for a second time after moving back to East Anglia.

He stepped down a year ago, and the club ran without a chairman. “I was invited to come back,” he said.

“I was honoured to be asked, and there is a job to do at the club.”

With more than 200 youngsters in the Grassroots section, the club feels the time is right to have an academy. “It’s a bit later than some other clubs,” he said.

“But with the quality of management here we have a good team of people to bring on the youngsters.”

The club has also commissioned a report on an artificial pitch. “Costs and availability of grants have to be considered, but it would help in the development of youth and junior football at the club.

“3G pitches have been approved by the FA up to Conference level, and it would be an advantage to have one,” he said. “You don’t lose fixtures to the weather, and it would be available for other clubs in the area to use.”

Turner said AFC is a not-for-profit organisation, and the club are exploring all opportunities to increase income.

“We have to market the facilities at the club to businesses in the area. At present the clubhouse is used on match days and some evenings. But it stands empty during the day when it could be used for conferences.”

With MEL Aviation ending their long-term overall sponsorship at the end of last season, Wardale Williams are the new stadium sponsors. AFC are looking for new shirt sponsors, another challenge for the new chairman.

There are busy times ahead, but Turner is very positive about his third spell in the chair. “We are very lucky here to have so many great volunteers who do so much work behind the scenes. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

n AFC are in Ryman League action on Saturday, when Thamesmead Town are the visitors to the Wardale Williams Stadium. AFC visit Aveley on Monday (7.45pm).

n In the first round of the League Cup, where they were beaten finalists last season, AFC have been drawn at home to Bury Town, to be played before October 10.

n In the Suffolk Premier Cup AFC are away to Kirkley & Pakefield on Tuesday, October 14 (7.45pm).

n Week 15 winners of the AFC Sudbury Gold fundraiser are: £100 W Messer (136), Ballingdon Gdns, Sudbury; £10 R Farrance (134), Tye Green, Glemsford; £10 M Mills (114), Parkwood Drive, Sudbury.