Jeune is ready for a “difficult challenge” at Poppies

New Poppies chairman Ritchie Jeune

New Poppies chairman Ritchie Jeune

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Ritchie Jeune believes he is in for a “difficult challenge” as he begins his reign as chairman of Kettering Town.

Weeks of off-field uncertainty at Nene Park have come to a head after Jeune was confirmed as the new chairman.

Along with existing director Gary Graham and Kettering Town (Poppies) Supporters Trust pair Mark Severn and Michael Quinn, who are both going through the Football Association’s fit and proper persons tests, Jeune has revealed the club has been running under the four-man management structure.

The club, who are preparing for the start of the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division campaign a week on Saturday, was plunged into new problems after previous acting chairman George Rolls was banned from football activity for five years after being found guilt of over 3,000 breaches of the FA’s betting rules.

The club entered into a Company Voluntary Arrangement earlier this summer to clear its crippling debts that had threatened to send it into liquidation.

Now Jeune has been tasked with bringing some much-needed stability to the Poppies.

He said: “I would say it is a difficult challenge and it’s not a position I envisaged being in when I first came here. That was never my intention.

“My intention was to come along and help and I was happy to be involved in the commercial side of things and let George deal with the football.

“Things haven’t worked out how we expected and we probably aren’t an attractive business for someone to invest in at the moment.

“So we have to get on with it and try to turn it around and make ourselves attractive for other investors.

“The club does have a good history and there are some very loyal fans who deserve better than what they have had over the past couple of years.

“No-one envisaged George getting a ban, George didn’t envisage getting a ban.

“In every way he came in and stabilised the club.

“We are now learning as we go along.

“It is going to be very difficult to ensure the viability of the club going forward.

“But we need to be as tight on the purse strings as we can and be as creative as we can.

“What we need to be getting to is what the hole that is left behind looks like and have a proper, serious budget in place based on fact.

“I have not been involved in this level of football before but people talk about what money you get for cup runs and this and that.

“We can’t base our financial stability on something that may happen.

“The club has to move forward and for that to happen, it needs stability.

“If we have to go out and find an additional investor then that is the challenge we have to accept.”

One main concern for Poppies fans has been the role of previous chairman Imraan Ladak, who remains the club’s majority shareholder despite not being involved in the day-to-day running of the club after things fell apart under his regime last season.

And Jeune said: “The first thing I will say on that is that shareholding is not the top of my priorities

“Imraan remains the largest shareholder and he remains very supportive of what we are trying to achieve for the club.

“Whatever his personal circumstances were that changed the fortunes of the club, he still has a love for it and has supported George and, in the short time I have been here, me as well in trying to get the club moving forward.

“Obviously negotiations were taking place between Imraan and George and subsequently myself and George because that is how these things work out.

“It is a case of unravelling that and working out how everything can be met.

“I am not a shareholder as it stands so my only interest is the welfare of the club.”