City have announced the appointment of former player Billy Clark as coach to the new Academy, based at Writhlington School, which commences in September 2009. Billy, a UEFA A Licence coach, has managed the Bristol Rovers Youth team for the last two seasons, based at Filton College and in his playing career made over 350 senior appearances, including 10 years at Bristol Rovers and 9 years semi professional (including three games for City in 1991). Although the academic course will not commence until the first week in September, the Academy’s first fixture is on 5 September, so Billy will be starting pre-season planning and arranging friendly matches within the next few weeks. City’s Managing Director, Paul Williams, said “The Club is very pleased to have obtained Billy’s services in an important appointment for Bath City’s future football development. Adie Britton and I were impressed by Billy’s experience and enthusiasm. His role is crucial to the success of this new venture and we believe he will be a valuable member of the Club’s staff.”
City striker Darren Edwards is hopeful that he will recover from a knee problem in time for the start of the 2009-10 season. It was initially thought that the injury, which saw him miss the final three matches of last season, would require an operation but following the latest examination a cortisone injection has been recommended which should allow the 28-year old to take part in City’s pre-season campaign and be ready for the new season on Saturday 8 August.
Both of City’s summer signings will be missing as the majority of the squad begin pre-season training this evening. Goalkeeper Ryan Robinson underwent a minor back operation on Tuesday and Sido Jombarti does not return from his native Portugal until the weekend. However, two further trialists will join the squad, former Cardiff City and Under-19 Welsh international Sam Wade, son of ex-City midfielder Bryan, and Melksham Town youngster Luke Cole, who City have been monitoring since last season.
The impact of Setanta Sports demise could be as much as £12,000 in lost sponsorship for City it was revealed today. As expected the Irish broadcaster went into administration yesterday following its failure to make a number of payments to sporting organisations and this has left all Football Conference clubs counting the cost. City currently receive £15,000 sponsorship as a member of the Blue Square South and it is estimated that around four-fifths of this was provided by Setanta Sports as the league’s broadcast partner. This could leave all Blue Square South clubs with as little as £3000 sponsorship although the Football Conference has announced it is seeking a new company to fill the void left by Setanta’s failure.
City supporters are holding a sponsored walk on Saturday 25 July to raise funds for the club ahead of the 2009-10 season. The walk will start at Twerton Park at 11am and cover a 10K route finishing back at the ground. It is hoped around 100 City fans will take part and they will be joined by manager Adie Britton plus several players. If you wish to take part you can download a sponsorship form here. For further details or if you would like to sponsor a walker please contact organiser Keith Leakey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After two successive eighth place finishes it is no surprise that City have been named 8th favourites for the 2009-10 Blue Square South in the first set of odds published the league sponsors. They have been placed at 14/1 alongside the pre-season favourite for the last two seasons Havant & Waterlooville. League newcomers Dover Athletic are named as 6/1 favourite, followed by Chelmsford City and Newport County at 7/1. Eastleigh (8/1), Hampton & Richmond Borough and Woking (both 9/1) are the other clubs ahead of City in the betting. For the full odds click here.
The future of the Setanta Shield looks uncertain after the draw 1st Round of the 2009-10 competition was suspended until further notice. The troubled Irish broadcaster began sponsoring the competition, that was formally known as the Conference League Cup, for the 2007-08 season, offering total prize money of £200,000 last year, but following the withdrawal of their Premier League broadcasting rights last week the Football Conference announced that today’s planned draw would not take place.
City have offered a pre-season trial to local teenage striker Jamie Taylor after he was released by Swindon Town. The former Culverhay School pupil helped the Robin’s youth team win the Puma Youth Alliance South West title last season under ex-City player and manager Paul Bodin, but he was not offered a professional contract at the end of his scholarship. The 18-year old will be given a chance to impress when City return to training next Thursday.
Another possible new face in pre-season is former Team Bath midfielder Mike Perrott. The 20-year old was a target of previous manager John Relish in March 2007, whilst he was with Melksham Town, but choose to join the now defunct club instead, making around 70 appearances.
Following today’s Football Conference AGM the Blue Square South line-up for the 2009-10 season has been confirmed as that announced by the FA Leagues Committee on May 29. Chester City’s acceptance into the Blue Square Premier despite currently being in administration – albeit with a -10 point start – ended Woking’s hopes of a reprieve and they will join Weymouth and Lewes in the Blue Square South next season. However, the future of both these clubs is still very much in doubt, so this may still not be the end of the story.
City’s squad reported back from their close season break this evening to receive their individual fitness schedules ahead of the start of pre-season training on Thursday 25 June. However, the venue of that first session is still unknown as the club continues its search for a new training base. The demise of tenant’s Team Bath ended the agreement where City used the University of Bath’s facilities and despite hoping to arrange a new deal they have been told they are now unavailable.
City look set to invite four trialists to attend pre-season training, including former target and ex-Team Bath midfielder Mike Perrott, as they look to fill the final three places in their 2009-10 squad.
City have arranged a second pre-season trip to Cirencester Town’s Corinium Stadium. They had already organised a meeting with Gloucester City, who are currently based there while they continue the search for a new permament home, for July 30 and they will now open their summer campaign against the Southern League South & West Division side on Thursday 9 July (ko 7.45pm). This will be City first pre-season meeting with the Centurians since 2003 when they had a night to forget – going down 4-1 and losing midfielder Iain Harvey for a large part of the 2003-04 season with a broken ankle.
Over 350 football fans packed into Charlie’s at Twerton Park this afternoon to hear Eric Cantona discuss his football career and the film, Looking for Eric, directed by City fan Ken Loach, in which he stars. The former Manchester United and France legend spent around four hours at the ground, carrying out numerous interviews and meeting sponsors before entering the bar to a rapturous reception. He then took part in a question and answer session led by Radio Bristol’s Geoff Twentyman and ex-City player, now Guardian journalist, Stuart James, covering his time at Manchester United, including the nine-month suspension for the infamous kung-fu kick on Crystal Palace supporter Matthew Simmons and his desire to work with world-renowed film director Loach, comparing him to United manager Sir Alex Ferguson who Cantona worked under for five years. He finished the hugely successful afternoon by drawing a raffle and presenting trophies to two of the club’s title-winning junior football teams, the under-11 boys and under-13 girls. A screening of the film followed at the Little Theatre, where Cantona and Loach took part in a further question and answer session. Both events will have raised around £12,000 for the club.
City have failed to bring Danny Carey-Bertram back to Twerton Park as they continue their search to replace Dave Gilroy. The former Hereford United and Forest Green Rovers striker made eight appearances for City during the opening months of last season, scoring twice, before budgetary constraints saw him move onto AFC Telford. He was an immediate success at the Bucks Head, netting 21 times to help Telford to the Blue Square North play-off final and lift the Setanta Shield. City boss Adie Britton’s hopes of recapturing the 24-year old were dashed when he was offered an improved contract with the Bucks.
Another striker who will not be at Twerton Park next season is all-time second top scorer Martin Paul. Birdy, who has scored 115 goals for the club, was being considered for a player-coach role but has joined one of his former clubs Mangotsfield United for the 2009-10 season.
City have added a trip to 2008-09 Southern League play-off winners Gloucester City’s temporary Cirencester home to their pre-season campaign. When the Tigers overcame favourites Farnborough last month by a single goal they would have expected to join City in the Blue Square South, however the vageries of the non-league pyramid saw them placed in the North division despite playing about 40 miles south of BSS club Worcester City. Therefore it will be a friendly encounter when the sides meet on Thursday 30 July (ko 7.45pm). Gate receipts for the game will be shared between the clubs, so all City fans are encouraged to make the trip to the Corinium Stadium.