As his side closes in on promotion from the Wessex League, Salisbury FC manager Steve Claridge insisted that the club will get back to where it was “in the correct way”.
The phoenix club has risen from the ashes of Salisbury City, after the former club were disbanded in 2014.
Increasing debt and spells in administration eventually came to a head and led to the painstaking death of Salisbury City after nearly seventy years in business.
However, Salisbury FC were formed less than a year later, with a new board and an aim of getting the club back to the upper reaches of the league pyramid.
Former Portsmouth and Leicester City striker Claridge was appointed as manager and he has led the club a fifteen point lead in the Wessex League Premier Division title race, with just eight games left to play.
And now he is hoping that promotions can be secured over the coming months and years, but insisted that they will look after the financial welfare of the club and no making the same mistakes made by the previous club.
He said “We have had a tough time getting people back on board because they have been treated disgracefully.
“This club shouldn’t have been in the position it was in because the money wasn’t there.
“We, as a football club, have to guard against that. Around 40% of what we bring in goes out on the budget, that is well within our capabilities.
“We aren’t paying out £400-500 a week to players, we will actually make money this season.
“We haven’t even paid out £200, I have one lad on £60 and I think he is the best centre back below the National League South.
“We started off with a sensible budget and we have maintained it, that was right for us and we are doing things sensibly and running our club in a professional way”
Claridge went on to reveal that planning was already underway for next season, as the club prepares for what is likely to be a move into the Southern Premier League’s second tier.
“We have to keep planning, it never stops, we can’t take a breath until we get back to where we were.
“We will be run in a sensible way and we won’t be going head-to-head with the big clubs. They can spend money, I have no issues but we aren’t joining the party, that isn’t our remit.
“We will get back, it might take five years, but I can assure you that every year we will do things properly.
“Nobody will push us and bully us to spend more, we won’t be overspending, it would be pointless.
“It is a strong board here, we will spend what we can, at the right time and we will get the club back to where it was in the correct way”
Claridge, who celebrated his fiftieth birthday on Sunday, believes that people accusing the former club of being ran in an irresponsible way are right to do so, describing the death of Salisbury City was a “disgrace”
“What we have is the bonkers people out there who are spending money they haven’t got and we have been accused of that.
“And to be honest I will take that because you can’t do what Salisbury City did, the people weren’t very pleasant, they didn’t run the club properly and I have suffered from that when I was at Weymouth and clubs got ahead of us by being ran in the wrong way.
“People accuse the old club of misdemeanours and they are correct, it was a disgrace”
If there is a dark cloud in an ultimately successful maiden season for the Whites it would be the FA Vase semi final defeat to fellow phoenix club Hereford FC.
The Bulls secured a place at Wembley with a 3-1 aggregate win over Claridge’s side and the Whites boss revealed that the result and performances over the two legs still hurt.
“It has been a great season and maybe I am guilty of being what I accuse most fans of being and that is maybe I am too expectant.
“It clouds your judgement a bit and I think the FA Vase has maybe stolen our thunder a little bit. Ultimately I think the season might be remembered more for the Vase defeat rather than us winning the league.
“That is probably more from myself but the fans and the players have put it behind them and responded brilliantly.
“But it felt like a bit of an anti-climax for myself, I have been there and done it and I think what sticks in my gut is that we didn’t do ourselves justice against Hereford.
“If we had then I could’ve walked away from it thinking we had a good go but I think that will always be there”
Since their exit from the FA Vase Salisbury have responded in fine fashion.
They have won all seven of their Wessex League Premier Division games, the latest victory coming against Lymington Town on Saturday.
Claridge was honest in his assessment of his players reaction since the Vase exit and admitted he wondered how much they had been hurt by the result.
“In one way it would concern a manager that they have put it behind them so quickly because you wonder if it is hurting them so much.
“They are the benefits of this level and the players don’t get too down but maybe they don’t understand what they missed out on.
“It sounds a bit warped but if you were a seasoned pro you would know how much you have missed out on.
“But we have come through it, we have dealt with it and we have moved on very well”
Interview: Mark Carruthers