THE future of Bletchley Town FC is in doubt because of a long-running – and frankly bizarre – dispute with the Milton Keynes Irish Centre.
The football club, which plays its South Midlands League Division Two home games at the Irish Centre’s Manor Fields site, currently has no manager, coaches or first team players.
But that, insists Bletchley chairman John Snead, is because the Irish Centre has been making it near-impossible for the club to continue.
He says members of the Irish Centre insisted that former first team manager Nick Crossley and some of his staff had to step down because they failed to win promotion to Division One last season – a claim that Irish Centre committee member Michael O’Hanlon told the Citizen was untrue.
The dispute dates back to the start of the season when O’Hanlon and the Irish Centre committee informed those involved with the football club that if they did not secure promotion, then ‘changes would have to be made’.
Bletchley chairman Snead has accused the Centre of interfering with the football club. But that, according to O’Hanlon, is well within their rights, given that the football club uses the Centre’s facilities.
And with the team failing to match their expectations, Crossley decided to step down as manager towards the end of the season, replaced by James Caine, who has since left to take over at Stony Stratford Town, taking almost the entire playing squad with him.
O’Hanlon denies that his ultimatum is the reason for Crossley leaving Bletchley, but Snead says otherwise and the two sides seem unable to agree on anything. However, those involved with the Centre and the football club are due to meet to discuss the situation tonight.
Speaking to the Citizen today (Wednesday), O’Hanlon said the Irish Centre needs a football club playing at Manor Fields in the future, and his preferred option would be to have Bletchley Town remain there.
Meanwhile a spokesman for Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Town Council, which a couple of years ago awarded a grant of £9,000 to the football club to improve the facilities at Manor Fields, confirmed the matter was being investigated.