Paul Murray and Dave Malone to leave Winchester City
Southern evening echo
DIRECTOR of football Dave Malone and chairman Paul Murray have announced they are leaving Winchester City at the end of the season.
Having come to the club four-and-a-half years ago to help save them from extinction, the pair are ready to step away from football.
Former Eastleigh chairman Murray will turn 70 this year and recently stood down as managing director of his company Paul Murray Plc.
“I’m trying to scale down my areas of responsibility,” he explained.
“Dave and I have done what we needed to do when we came to the club in 2013 and I’ve enjoyed it very much.
“We’ve stabilised the club and set it on its way again and it needs someone to come in now and take it on.
“After leaving Eastleigh, I thought that was it, but when Winchester were in danger of folding, Dave and I decided to take it on. We both live locally and we had the experience.
“The club’s in good shape now and hopefully someone will lead it to the Southern Premier.”
For ex-Eastleigh director of football Malone, it will mark the end of 18 years in non-League football, which began at Bashley and peaked in his first spell at Winchester when they lifted the FA Vase in Birmingham in 2004.
This latest stay at the Simplyhealth City Ground began with high hopes that the City Council landlords would support the club’s dream of a 3G pitch and clubhouse renovations. But, four years on, nothing has materialised.
“Paul and I are both disappointed with the City Council, they have given us little support,” said Malone.
“It all stood up financially and we were prepared to pay substantial rent, but the council did a feasibility study and we went round and round in circles before they came back and said they didn’t think money needed to be invested here.
“They don’t seem to be interested in football. Maybe they want to see Wessex League football here again.
“We came in when the club was on its knees and we’ve done as much as we can within the confines of what we can afford. Unless we get other investment in or more council backing, how much further can we go?”
Malone’s motivation for returning in the first place was that he couldn’t bear to see the club he loves go to the wall.
He and Murray are making this announcement early to allow plenty of time for someone else to step in.
On the pitch, Winchester are going well in the Evo-Stik South West under manager Craig Davis and are in with a shout of the play-offs.
Off it, they need more investment if they are to progress, but Malone said: “Financially the club’s on an even keel. We don’t owe anyone anything and the last thing we want is to see the club go backwards.
“Paul and I came to Winchester because it was about to fold and I’d like to think we’ll be leaving a legacy as much as anything.
“This gives the club a chance to regroup and look for fresh blood to come in.
“I don’t think we’ll leave the club in a situation where it will implode, but whether it goes backwards is another issue.
“We’re trying to get other people involved and if anyone out there is interested, we’d love to hear from them.”
Malone has no plans to join another club, admitting: “I’d like a complete rest from football after 18 years.”