O’Shea: departure was by mututal consent over budget level

OUTGOING Lewes FC boss Tim O’Shea this week said his departure from the club was by mutual consent because of issues concerning the playing budget for next season.

The former Croydon Athletic manager’s exit from the Dripping Pan hot seat was announced last Friday lunchtime, along with his assistant, Neil Smith’s, writes Brian Pollard.

Although O’Shea insists he left on good terms with the community club’s Board, he said the fact that the playing budget had been reduced for next season meant “it was always going to happen” that he would leave.

He said that, following talks on Wednesday last week, he received a call from the club the following evening to inform him of the Board’s decision to “make a change” in management personnel. But he added that, having spent the 24 hours considering the numbers on the table, he had made a similar decision not to continue at the club next season.

O’Shea said: “It wasn’t going to happen. We had a chat and quite frankly the budget they had come up with for next season wasn’t going to do it.

“The budget for management and players alike was always going to be difficult.

“I had a meeting on Wednesday. We had a good old chat about the season. They put a proposal to me and left me to think about it.

“I could tell it wasn’t going to happen.

“They then rang me on Thursday evening to say they were going to make a change anyway. But by then I had already decided that myself.

“The likelihood of the squad being able to stay something along the lines of how it is at present was remote. The majority of them were going to be Sussex-based players.

“It’s a smaller budget; it’s not a massive difference, but it is smaller.”

O’Shea defended his record as manager in his short time at the club, having taken over from Steve Ibbitson in late October last year, pointing out how close he had taken the club to Blue Square Bet South survival compared to its parlous state at the start of his time there.

“It was a shame, we nearly got across the line. But nevertheless, the 31 points we picked up from the 29 games after we took over, over the course of a season that averages 44 or 45 points – and that’s good enough to stay up.

“Remember, they had only picked up five points from the first 13 games when we took over. That’s not to do anyone down at the club, not the Board or the management at the time, I’m not interested in a blame culture, that’s just how it was.

“And considering we had the second smallest budget in the league behind St Albans, we didn’t do too badly in our tenure there.

“We also had 13 players under contract which gave us absolutely no flexibilty, and no extra money was made available to us during the season.

“But we had got ourselves into a position where our destiny was in our own hands – but unfortunately we didn’t perform in the last two games.

O’Shea also defended his record against accusations from fans on the unofficial fans forum of a ‘revolving door’ policy regarding players used throughout the season, with talk of 65 players being used by him in his time at the club. “I was told that 31 of those 65 were actually used before I came,” he said. He also said that a number of those 65 were merely registered as being options for the club, but were not played in the first team.

But O’Shea was at pains to say he understood why the Board of Directors, which took over the ailing club less than a year ago before turning it into a community-led success (at least off the field) story – were not prepared risk the long-term future of the club by being tempted to set too high a budget next year, when the Rooks look set to compete in the Ryman Premier.

“We have left on good terms,” said ‘ToSH’. “The Board at that club are a fantastic Board. They have put all that work into make it a stable club – they’re not going to chance all that on a whim. Lewes Football Club needs to remain, first and foremost. That fact comes ahead of any personal considerations, whether they be Board or management.

“I sincerely wish the club all the best in the future.”