• DerbyshireFootball

Ilkeston chairman and owner steps down from role

Ilkeston Town chairman and owner Mark Clifford has announced is leaving the club to concentrate on his coaching career.

Clifford arrived back at the New Manor Ground, where he had also once been a player, as the team's first team manager in 2019 before soon becoming its owner and chairman when the club was sold by previous owner Alan Hardy.

He has since overseen a large renovation of facilities at the club, aided by investors David Hilton and Andrew Nally who have now taken full control following Clifford's departure and who have further large scale plans in place.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Clifford said his desire to return to the playing side of the game was behind his decision.

He full statement read: "I’d like to announce that I have today stepped down as the club chairman and shareholder.

"When I came in as manager in August 2019 it was a great moment for me, a real privilege to manage a club that I had become extremely fond of over the years, starting with my loan spell from Mansfield Town as a young pro nearly 30 years ago.

"Initially upon taking the role, the club were in a precarious position, I had no benefit of a pre-season and I was without a playing squad, with only five days to go before our first fixture. I succeeded in fielding a team that was competitive under very difficult circumstances.

"Soon afterwards whilst attending in support of me, Dave and Andrew became interested in investing at the club and we very quickly together started to plan, rebuild, modernise and rebrand.

"This meant certain personal sacrifices had to be made by me as my passion once my playing career ended had always been coaching and management. The club takeover and off field matters meant that I had to stop doing something that I loved to ensure that all hands were on deck in order to move the club forward through not only the transition of ownership, but also through a pandemic and major development works.

"The timing of the takeover couldn’t have been any worse if I’m completely honest and I have to thank Dave and Andrew for the way they have backed the club financially and myself through what was a very difficult time with no fixtures, no income, and no business activity.

"The improvements have also been phenomenal and are there for all to see.

"I hope that moving forward people can understand my decision and respect the fact that life is too short to carry any regret. I worked extremely hard over the years to achieve my UEFA A licence coaching qualification and this enables me to have the greatest impact on the training field.

"Whilst being part of the ownership of a football club may seem glamorous to some, most of the time it certainly is not. Over the past few months my desire to return to the dugout has grown considerably. The business side of the club has replaced working with players on the grass and this in turn has become a constant noise in my head, one that I finally have to listen to.

"Martin [Carruthers] is doing a fantastic job with his management team and it’s important that they are able to continue without any interruption from another person that could disrupt the team’s development, cohesion and ultimate aim, promotion!

"With all of this in mind I have taken the decision to step away, in order to give me more time to assess my options, to discover what is out there for me either now or in the very near future. This is something I simply could not find the time to do whilst juggling my work commitments, family time and running of the club.

"The club, however, is in a good place, it’s in great hands and has a real positive future to look forward to.

"I would like to thank Martin, Danny Draper, Liam Attwood, Mike and Kelly Pike and Mark Frost for all of their assistance, along with everyone else at the club that have supported me, but most of all, I would like to wish my friends Dave and Andrew all the very best with the club moving forward.

"We have together contributed towards unifying a community, created wonderful facilities and helped hundreds of children feel part of something bigger and better.

"I am extremely proud to say but with a heavy heart that I leave behind a real football family."