Jeune: New five-year process for Poppies starts now

Kettering Town owner Ritchie Jeune says the club is at the start of another five-year process. Picture by Peter Short
Kettering Town owner Ritchie Jeune says the club is at the start of another five-year process. Picture by Peter Short

Ritchie Jeune believes Kettering Town now find themselves at the start of a new five-year process.

It has been a hectic week for the Poppies, sparked by the resignation of former boss Marcus Law and the immediate appointment of Nicky Eaden as the club’s new manager at the weekend.

That was followed by a series of announcements as Kettering pinned down a number of members of last season’s Evo-Stik League South Premier Division Central title-winning squad.

In the end, Poppies owner Jeune’s initial five-year plan of getting the club back into the Vanarama National League North took one more year than he had hoped for.

Nonetheless, Kettering are now preparing for a return to Step 2, although they will be doing it with a new manager in place.

There had been much speculation and rumour surrounding the circumstances of Law’s decision to resign.

Jeune wouldn’t be drawn into that speculation and he insists the club simply have to “move forward” with Eaden being tasked with the job of leading them into a new era at Latimer Park.

“Marcus resigned and that was the decision he took,” Jeune said.

“Sometimes there will be disagreements on how things should look moving forward and sometimes that means change.

“No-one can take anything away from the job he did, he delivered on what he set out to achieve but we have to move on.

“And, with Nicky, we feel we have someone who can help us move forward.

“He was available and he has got history with the club, he was successful here. He was with Nuneaton last year and went in there and saw changes in ownership. I think he went through a dramatic period with them.

“And then he was with Hednesford and didn’t shy away from a relegation battle and he steered them away from it. I think there were things he wanted to do there but they parted ways.

“We just feel that he is the sort of guy who is capable of leading us forward. He knows the club, the fans know him and we are happy to have him here.

“It is the start of another five-year process for the club.

“I think we would have liked to get out of the league below a bit earlier but we stuck to the game plan and got there in the end.

“But everyone here is well aware of how tough the league we are going into is and we know there are teams who have won the division below and then gone straight back down.

“The aim must be to maintain our position in the league and we have to make sure we have our heads firmly focused on what will be an extremely tough test for the club.”

Over the past few years, Kettering have tended to hold fire on announcing their retained list and any new signings until league registrations open at the start of July.

But, following the change of manager at the weekend, the club then let rip with a flurry of announcements, which saw 11 of last season’s squad retained, Connor Kennedy announced as the first new summer signing and new two-year deals for two of the club’s academy products.

Speculation was again rife about the future of the title-winning squad following Rhys Hoenes’ departure to Tamworth after he intimated he was still owed money by the club - something that Jeune immediately refuted in a social media spat.

But it didn’t stop tongues from wagging and Jeune conceded the decision to announce some player news was made to calm the rumours.

“We don’t normally like to announce details on players until things are all completely signed,” he said.

“But there was so much speculation and rumour going around that we felt we needed to let the fans know that a lot of the rumours they were hearing were absolute rubbish.

“We knew some players would leave and everyone who has left will have their own reasons for that and we also know that bigger opportunities might be available for others in the same league or in the level above.

“So, this pre-season is no different to any other. But there was a lot of speculation based on very little fact that we needed to come out and remind everyone that we had a squad that won the league last season and a lot of them want to help us move forward.

“The message from us is clear - let’s get on with it and make sure we are ready for the step up.”

And no pre-season at Kettering would be complete without a quick word about their ground situation.

The Poppies are readying Latimer Park for the step up and Jeune insists the club are fully aware of what needs to be done before the end of March next year to ensure they meet the requirement to stay in the National League North should they do enough on the pitch.

But, lurking in the background, is the question over when the club may return to Kettering itself.

It was back in September that Jeune revealed the Poppies had struck a deal with Kettering Council to purchase an area of land off Scott Road in town, on which they hope to build a new stadium in the future.

Jeune was clear at the time that it would be a long-term project for the club and, despite it being a slow process at present, he insists the aim hasn’t changed.

“As far as Latimer Park is concerned, we have the space and capabilities to do what needs to be done,” he added.

“To be honest, there is very little to be done but the seating area (500 covered seats) is the big job for us and that is a project we are looking at.

“But we are not concerned about the ground grading. We know what needs to be done and it will be done.

“As far as the site in Kettering is concerned, I don’t think we are as far forward as both us and the powers-that-be would like to be.

“I am sure we would all like to get everything done as quickly as possible but when you are dealing with Government-owned land, there are always lots of different things that need to be signed off.

“I don’t think there is any change in the approach of both parties to get it done.

“There are challenges to the site but they are challenges that we feel we can overcome when that time comes.”