Doncaster Belles: ‘My job became impossible’, says former chief Gordon Staniforth

Gordon Staniforth resigned days after the Belles' 2014 season ended.
Gordon Staniforth resigned days after the Belles' 2014 season ended.
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Gordon Staniforth says he resigned as Belles manager because of the “impossible” budget he was given.

The former professional footballer led Doncaster to a second-placed finish in FAWSL2 - taking the title race right to the wire with Sunderland.

However, just days after thrashing London Bees 9-0 in their final game of the season, the Belles released a statement to say Staniforth had resigned.

“I am very disappointed to leave but the budget made the job impossible,” he said.

“I’d known for a while that the financial state wasn’t great and made my concerns heard to the board.

“The stripped-back budget I was given didn’t run with where I knew we needed to be heading. We needed to be building on our fantastic season and looking to the future.

“I had already been looking ahead to next season, I had a strategy in place. I’d brought in several improvements to the club like backroom staff, a sports psychologist and talent scouting.

“We could’ve had a really good go of it next season.”

Staniforth went on: “I always had to pinch myself being the Belles manager, I was so proud to be at the club.

“I had a fantastic team and we had a fantastic season and I will always look back on my time with pride.

“It’s a shame it’s ended this way but football is football.”

A spokesman for the Belles’ board of directors said: “We wish Gordon well in his future career but are disappointed with his resignation.

“Unfortunately the harsh reality of continuing to play football in FAWSL2 is that the FA grant has been reduced by 50 per cent.

“If we had won promotion then more money would have been available to the club from the FA.

“Since we did not get promotion we must now adjust to life on a reduced income.

“We are delighted that club founder Sheila Edmunds has agreed to take on the role of general manager and we have been heartened by the offers of support from our community volunteers.

“This will enable the club to keep off the field costs down to a minimum.

“Our main club sponsor has confirmed their continuing commitment to the club and Doncaster Rovers have agreed additional club support.

“We are in a great position to challenge for promotion again next season.”

The Belles won 14 out of 18 domestic games this season, finishing just two points behind FAWSL2 champions Sunderland.

Staniforth took over the reins from John Buckley following the conclusion of the Belles’ much-criticised top flight relegation by the FA.

Former player and manager Julie Chipchase will lead the search for a new manager.

The club have told the Free Press they “have already received many expressions of interest”.

n The Belles held their annual end of season awards at the Keepmoat Stadium last Saturday.

Club captain Leandra Little won Player of the Season, Sue Smith collected Player’s Player and Bethany England received the Doncaster Free Press Player of the Year.