JIM COLLINS wants to make Whitehawk a more professional operation off the pitch after being unveiled as the club’s new chairman.
Co-chairman Peter McDonnell and John Summers, whose drive, generosity and business contacts have led the club on a rapid rise through the divisions, will remain at the head of the club as directors.
Former Burgess Hill chairman Collins, who has been out of the game since 2000, was confirmed as chairman last night, directly responsible to McDonnell and Summers while acting as line manager to everyone below them.
Whitehawk were playing County League football as recently as 2010 but are now preparing for their second season in Conference south, the sixth tier of English football.
Collins acknowledges their off-the-field operation has not progressed as quickly as on the pitch.
And that will be his prime role as the club move towards their dream of a new 6,000-seater stadium.
Collins told The Argus: “I have come in under what is going to be a row of directors because it will be run as a limited company from the start of the season.
“I am the chairman and Nigel Thornton, who has been looking after almost everything for the last five years, will be vice chairman. Below us there is a string of really good people at the club who are passionate about Whitehawk. If you cut them, they will bleed Whitehawk, primarily all volunteers.
“I have put in a reporting structure that should help communication within the club. People at the director level will speak to me and then I will disseminate the information where it needs to go. We won’t have people below me talking to the director level.
“That is the idea of it on a communication front but they are also looking for leadership as well to designate roles and encourage more local people into the club to help.
“Basically it is a County League set-up and we are playing in Conference south. That is the reality of what it is. Lots of people have said it is Mission Impossible but who knows?”
The changes at the club will allow businessmen McDonnell and Summers to direct focus on their areas of expertise.
Collins added: “I’m trying to introduce things to make it more professional. We will have polo shirts with the club badge on for all volunteers and staff so they will all look the same so if anybody looks around the club they can see who works for Whitehawk.
“The board and committee will all have ties and you can see they are all part of the club whereas at the moment there is no real identity. The attendances are dreadful and we need to do something about that.
“There is a plan for three years to be in the new stadium, a 6,000-seater stadium that we have plans for all pushing away in the background. That is why John and Ned (McDonnell) want to concentrate on moving that planning process forward.”
Collins is confident manager Steven King will put together a team capable of pushing for the play-offs this season.
It is hoped the new chairman’s work will go hand-in-hand with the manager’s.
He added: “The people at Whitehawk seem really passionate about the club and they want to be more organised. Ned and John are off their feet with work, they can’t deal with it.
“They know they have a County League club there and they have been to clubs who are more professional and they want to move to that sort of standard.
“I can bring enthusiasm, experience, communication and leadership”
Article by Howard Griggs for The Argus