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AFC Sudbury chairman Andrew Long calls on the FA to support non-league clubs to stop them 'going to the wall'




After reluctantly accepting the resignation of manager Mark Morsley, AFC Sudbury chairman Andrew Long has warned urgent help needs to be forthcoming to stop ‘non-league clubs going to the wall’.

The club released a statement on Tuesday evening with the surprising news that the board had ‘agreed the voluntary redundancy of its first-team manager’.

It revealed the unprecedented tough times they were facing as a club, with the suspension of football during the coronavirus outbreak, was ‘entirely responsible’ for the decision.

FOOTBALL: Soham v AFC Sudbury - AFC boss Mark Morsley Picture Mark Westley. (5876827)
FOOTBALL: Soham v AFC Sudbury - AFC boss Mark Morsley Picture Mark Westley. (5876827)

But Long has revealed they will not be currently looking for a new manager. And he has said the door has been left open for Morsley, who remains involved with AFC in an advisory voluntary role, having also relinquished his position as director, to possibly return.

Morsley himself has not been available for comment.

The BetVictor Isthmian League initially suspended games for a week ahead of AFC being due to host Grays Athletic on Saturday and Maldon & Tiptree on Tuesday.

Andrew Long of AFC Sudbury presenting manager Mark Morsley with a monthly awardPicture: Clive Pearson (31248712)
Andrew Long of AFC Sudbury presenting manager Mark Morsley with a monthly awardPicture: Clive Pearson (31248712)

But following the escalation of the virus and government measures to combat it, the league announced it was extending that until April 3, with the likelihood of another extension at that point.

Long said their club, like many others, is facing very ‘tough times’ having had to shut down their facilities to revenue streams from bookings on and off the pitch. They have also had to call off the events, including a concert, on the pitch at the end of the season.

The club’s academy have moved to a remote learning programme to enable home teaching to maintain recommended social distancing.

And he fears for the future of themselves and other semi-professional clubs if they are not given a helping hand through this period.

AFC Sudbury chairman Andrew Long with former England international Staurt Pearce, who headlined their Sporting Dinner. There will not be one this year due to the coronavirus pandemicPicture: Clive Pearson
AFC Sudbury chairman Andrew Long with former England international Staurt Pearce, who headlined their Sporting Dinner. There will not be one this year due to the coronavirus pandemicPicture: Clive Pearson

“The FA and Football League, along with the government, need to step in and do something to help clubs lower down the football pyramid or clubs will go to the wall,” he said, adding he will be getting
in touch with the FA to see what could be done.

He said they had an emergency finance committee meeting with Richard Instance, Morsley and himself this week to assess what measures may need to be taken to ensure the club remains for the community when football does return.

“Mark said I have got to take the lead here and take voluntary redundancy,” Long said.

“You could plainly see on his face and by his demeanour how much that hurt him but he felt it was the right thing to do for the club.

“He said, of course, he will stay on as an advisor on a voluntary basis. That is testament to the man.”

He said players were still being paid.

Mark Morsley brought in academy chief Danny Laws (left) to help him out with the first team in OctoberPicture: Richard Marsham
Mark Morsley brought in academy chief Danny Laws (left) to help him out with the first team in OctoberPicture: Richard Marsham

Morsley re-joined the club, following a successful spell between 2006 and 2008, in October 2017.

His initial method of moving on many of the senior players, including long-term captain Sam Clarke, to blood the academy players was controversial among the fanbase.

After having not been able to deliver a sustained play-off bid with the much younger side, despite targetting the top five, he fired his entire coaching staff in October, having also considered his own position. He replaced them with academy duo Danny Laws and Dave Cannon, combining with their other club roles, which did lead to improved results.

Morsley had overseen a run of three straight victories to leave the Yellows in a mid-table 11th place, having played 26 games of the 38 game season.

Under his first full season in charge, in 2018/19, the club finished eighth but 22 points adrift of the top five. He led them to 12th in their first season since relegation in 2017/18, following his October appointment.

Morsley had spoken in last week’s Free Press about considering when to take the next step with the evolution of the club from focusing on developing players to climbing the non-league ladder.


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