Exclusive chat with Michael Westcott - the man leading the reset at Torquay United

Michael Westcott says, as the new ‘custodians’ of Torquay United, the Bryn Consortium plans to be open and honest with the fans - after the announcement today that a ‘sale agreement’ had been reached with the club’s administrators.

Talking to DevonLive this afternoon, Westcott said it took him about a week after former owner Clarke Osborne walked away to see if he could help, and he believes the six people who make up the Bryn Consortium that will now take the club forward are the right people, with the right motivation, and business skills.

Westcott said: “We have been thinking about this for several weeks and we have thought very, very carefully about the business model, about addressing the sustainability question, at the same time being competitive, because we are not a club without ambition - I have made that clear before.

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“One thing I will assure everyone, as long as the six of us are involved in Torquay United, we will never ever find ourselves in this awful position again. It starts with a firm foundation, rooted in reality from the economics perspective, and at the same time ensuring that we meet, rightfully, the expectations of the fans that we want to play good football and be competitive.”

Westcott, Mark Bowes-Cavanagh, Tom Allen, Rob Hawes and Simon Robinson are officially the men who are directors of a new company called Scoring Goals Limited - and he is convinced he has a good team around him as more hard work begins to meet the challenge of being ready for the new National League South season in August.

Westcott, 57, said: “We are six guys who are very experienced at building businesses and always surround ourselves with the best and brightest minds in any particular sector that we’re working in - and football is no different. We know what we know and we know what we don’t know, importantly, and have made sure that we have surrounded ourselves with the right advice to produce our plan to map a way forward.”

Westcott, who was one of three people who built the business CloserStill Media, a business-to-business company that is based in London, said he first approached the club a week after Osborne’s exit to see how he could help - and the ‘accidental consortium’ built itself from there.

For a man who started out as a reporter writing about Bryn the police dog that bit Jim Mcnichol in that famous Great Escape against Crewe Alexandra, it is kind of neat that the announcement of the deal with the administrators came exactly 37 years to the day since that incident.

Westcott said: “It probably took me about a week to really process what the notice of administration really meant - the implications of Mr Osborne walking away from Torquay United meant. I, like a few individuals, contacted the club and asked them to understand what the process was, and it’s amazing how a number of people like myself had similar intentions. And then, if you like, we became the accidental consortium.

“We very quickly understood that we all had the same motivations. First and foremost we were all avid and lifelong Torquay fans, and we all had a successful track record at building businesses. And we were in a position to be able to make a difference immediately.

“I think there is some nice symmetry between May 9, 1987, and the famous dog bite, culminating exactly 37 years later to the day that, as a group of fellows under the name of the Bryn Consortium, we hope we can provide a secure and safe future for the club. So there’s some sematary and it underlines to me that life is circular, is it not?”

There is a ‘ton’ of work to do now, said Westcott. First of all, there is no manager and no players (apart from maybe one under contract into the new season). So the consortium’s reward for getting a deal agreed is more hard work.

There has been a lot to consider and there will be some big and often tough decisions to be made. Will the club remain full time? Is an artificial pitch a financially sensible idea? Is there a role for Torquay United Supporters’ Trust? Is there a role for a former Premiership manager Neil Warnock? Next week, there will be some answers - like who the manager will be. Others questions, you suspect, might take more thinking about.

Westcott said: “The good news is these plans have been well thought through. If you think about the footballing side, watch this space next week when we will have a number of updates. We have a work stream around the entire commercial engagement side, and how we are thinking about that and interacting with national businesses. We have got season tickets to think about, we have got pre-season friendlies to think about, we have got the pitch to think about.

“We spent many, many weeks crafting our business plan, with budgets for all scenarios, and now we need to move into execution mode, which we are more than capable of doing - but we don’t have time on our side. But we are super focussed on it - and we are surrounding ourselves with a number of people who help us move at speed.

“We see ourselves as custodians and we will reflect the fans and the community that we serve. You have our assurance that we’ll be completely open as we look to reset the club. You’ll find us to be very engaging with all of our stakeholders, but not least with our supporters.”

After five years of poor communication from the previous owner and his regime, a new openness will be more than welcomed by the club’s fans. That will be such a positive going into this new era - this reset.

“There has been a sense of frustration about the engagement level between the club and the supporters, and I think it is fair to say that in some quarters there is a sense of feeling disenfranchised. And that’s a very dangerous place to be, if supporters feel disenfranchised by the club that they love. I think we owe it to them to completely reset that relationship between the club and its fans.

“I think it is worth reiterating that the six of us are fans first and custodians second and we want to run and operate Torquay United in a way that reflects the fans that we serve.”