AFC Fylde boss Jim Bentley reveals "huge effect" of past year on his life and career
AFC Fylde boss Jim Bentley revealed that the pandemic has had “a huge effect” on his life and career as he endorsed the club’s bid to continue the season.
Two weeks ago manager Bentley oversaw the club’s victory at York City in his first match back after heart surgery. Two days later clubs in National League North voted to end and nullify the season.
It is the second year running that Fylde have suffered from a decision to curtail the campaign – last season they were relegated on points-per-game, and this time around their promotion bid has been stopped with the club second in the table.
And Bentley spoke openly to the club website about the personal implications of this double setback.
He said: “Last season’s relegation had a huge effect on my career. From November to July, I went from being a League Two manager to a National League North manager. With that, I took a 25 per cent pay cut which was in my contract. So that decision has not only affected my career but also my personal life. Mentally it has been really tough to take.
“I am extremely grateful that I am still in work while the pandemic continues to affect livelihoods across the country, but the events of last season and this season have seriously affected my life. People from afar don’t consider those factors but it has a huge impact from a mental, financial and career perspective.
“The club has taken a massive hit. We only have five players on the books from last season. When I arrived the players were mentally at rock bottom. There was a huge void in confidence, with the majority of players wanting to leave and even some wanting to tear their contracts up. In itself, that was a huge challenge to try and change that mindset. Unfortunately in football there is no magic wand.
“It has taken a lot of hard work to psychologically resuscitate the football club and bring in a brand new group of players and staff. We have virtually had to start again following the relegation.
“Having rebuilt the squad, we are now facing the possibility of having all of that work taken away from us and that is really hard to take.”
Fylde are among 18 National League North and South clubs who have signed up to a campaign to complete their season without the clubs who voted to scrap it. The Coasters are at the forefront of the campaign and are eagerly awaiting a response from the league.
Bentley fully supports the club’s efforts, adding: “Some people may comment on AFC Fylde with a hint of jealousy, particularly at this level. Our chairman takes a lot of unjust criticism for his wealth and the way in which he financially backs the football club.
“He has his ways of working, which people may not always agree with, but he is living the dream in owning his own football club, building it up from absolutely nothing alongside Dai Davies (president).
“Why should he be criticised for that? He is heavily invested in the community and has given the surrounding area a football club to be proud of. He has built a facility that is used by surrounding organisations, charities and community members. I think that he should be applauded for that.
“A lot of the clubs pointing the finger are part-time, so have no understanding of our position.
“The players and staff at those clubs have day jobs, so putting this season to bed is a lot easier when football isn’t their main source of income and daily routine.
“Football is our livelihoods. We have no secondary job to revert to if this season is deemed null and void, and that is a very difficult situation for us to have to manage.”
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