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Club Statement: Ryan McKnight

Posted: Tue 08 Apr 2014
Ryan McKnight has announced he is to stand down from his position as Chief Executive of the club.  Mr McKnight will leave Edgeley Park in early May.

He said: "A combination of the hard yards now being completed in respect to healing the business and my personal confidence in the new people willing to assist the club moving forward mean that I feel that it would be contradictory of me to allow the club to continue to service a full-time CEO at the level the club is currently at.

"For me the ends have justified the means and in spite of some of the difficulties and unpopular decisions we have gone through over the fifteen months the business has gone from being one that lost well over £400k the year I arrived, with a poor balance sheet, to one which, if the measures I have introduced are continued, has every chance to break-even next year with the reality of a vastly improved balance sheet to match as well.

"Clearly, County are not in a division befitting the club but at least the club remains in a division and in existence - that reality should not be taken for-granted. The business is now unrecognisable financially, culturally and structurally from the one I took over and a continuation of that stability will eventually yield the on-field results everyone is yearning for and the financial certainty off it.

"This, like 99% of clubs, still needs the support of its biggest asset, the supporters. I really do hope as many of you as possible come out and buy season tickets this month and also positively back the remaining shareholders and board who have nothing but the best interests of the club at heart.

"Austerity is never nice but sometimes necessary. I'm positive that this period will be looked back upon as the time the groundwork required for the club to reignite itself as a business and as a football force was done.

"I've had the privilege of working with some great people at the club and naturally I'd like to thank them all."

Shareholder and Club Director, Richard Park said: "We would like to thank Ryan for his efforts at Stockport County during demanding financial circumstances.  He has steered the club through a difficult, but necessary, period of austerity and has taken some tough and often unpopular decisions.

"The Board would like to thank Ryan for his contribution during his time at Stockport County and we wish him well in his future career in football."

Following Ryan's decision, Stockport County can announce that Steve Bellis and George Hudson have offered to help the club behind the scenes over the coming months, and they will liase with Ryan for the next four weeks during a 'handover' period.  However, the position of Chief Executive Officer will not be replaced on a full-time basis.

Steve Bellis was Commercial Director with Stockport County during the 1990s and through his innovative approach to grassroots initiatives, he engaged the players with the local community and consequently grew County's youth membership by 600%.

He also took County into China in 2001 and 2004, and across vast swathes of that country he created a profile for the Hatters which was bigger than the likes of Manchester United and Barcelona.

Steve is regularly asked to speak internationally on grassroots football development and the internationalisation of football brands.

Using the County model Steve's company, Kickworldwide, aims to build support and service grassroots football in countries without a sophisticated football development infrastructure.

Steve said: "My own business is still expanding, which means I am unable to commit to any long-term, full-time position at Edgeley Park, but I hope to do all I can in my own time to help the club get back on its feet after several years in the doldrums and leave it in safe hands for future generations.

"There is a fantastic group of people in place at Edgeley Park and I look forward to working closely with and assisting them, as much as I am able, as we look to take this club back where it belongs.  I have been coming to games regularly this season and I hope other fans, like me, will also get the 'buzz' back and return to watch County next season."

George Hudson has worked at the cutting edge of IT for the past 25 years.  His expertise lies in Project Management and Business Analysis.

After implementing IT service systems for organisations such as BAE Systems and the NHS, George became self-employed and has delivered a variety of systems and process improvements including integrated ticketing, CRM and retail systems for sporting clients.

George said: "I have been helping County on an ad hoc basis already this season, but I hope to be able to devote more time and energy to the project over the coming months.  I have been a season ticket holder for many years and look forward to working closely with Steve and the Board of Directors to bring a bright new future to Edgeley Park."