TOWN IN TURMOIL: Boss Lyttle to stay on amid plans for survival

STAYING LOYAL -- Town manager Des Lyttle
STAYING LOYAL -- Town manager Des Lyttle

CRISIS-hit Hucknall Town are frantically trying to hatch a survival plan — after the controversial ousting of ‘owner’/chairman Steve Greaves.

But they have been boosted by the decision of manager Des Lyttle to stay at the club — thanks to an injection of more than £20,000 of fresh investment.

Bus baron Greaves (56) left Town after losing a vote of no-confidence at a showdown meeting on Sunday January 29.

The vote was called by the club’s executive committee less than four months after he took over at Watnall Road with former Birmingham City, Notts County and Derby County defender Michael Johnson (38).

It followed a bitter and rancorous breakdown in the relationship between Greaves and Town’s chief executive, Liz Morley, over the financial management of the club.

The Dispatch was denied access to the meeting. Because Town remains a members’ club, the only people allowed to attend, and vote, were members of the committee, social club members and backers who had signed up to a shares scheme to help turn The Yellows into a limited company at the end of this season.

Chairman Greaves, a former police officer who now runs the bus company, Premiere Travel, was allowed to outline his long-term proposals for the club.

But he was defeated by 28 votes to 19. It is understood that social members were heavily instrumental in swaying the vote against him.

The decision was met with disbelief and anger among supporters, who posted furious messages on the fans’ forum website and also via Facebook and Twitter.

They viewed Greaves as The Yellows’ ‘sugar daddy’ saviour of the club after the demise of former guru Brian Holmes and the sensational revelations of their £87,500 VAT debt, which brought Town to their knees during the summer.

Because Greaves promised thousands of pounds of sorely-needed investment, fans feared the decision could lead to the collapse of the cash-strapped club.

However, emergency talks between Morley and Lyttle on Wednesday night revealed details of the new investment, which has been guaranteed by “about four” benefactors, who wish to remain anonymous.

And this persuaded ex-Nottingham Forest defender Lyttle to carry on as boss as Town pursue a place in the promotion play-offs in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South.

The position of Johnson remains unclear. It is understood that he has been asked to continue as director of football but he is to seek further talks with Greaves before making a final decision.

“We had a fantastic meeting on Wednesday night,” reported Morley. “It was brilliant.

“Des is fully committed to staying on board and we can fund the squad until the end of the season.

“Des is convinced the budget is enough to challenge for promotion, while at the same time we can pay off a large chunk of our debts.

“Des is also going to play an active role in the club and the setting-up of a new academy for apprentices. He is really enthusiastic, and we are as well.”

Town’s schedule to pay off their VAT debt remains on target. But a number of small-time creditors also need paying.

“We have to concentrate on paying off our debts to ensure that we meet the summer deadline for turning the club into a limited company,” continued Morley.

“But no players will need to leave. All the players will be paid as previously and then, in the close season, we will be able to talk about investment for the future.”

Lyttle told the Dispatch yesterday: “I liked what I heard at Wednesday night’s meeting.

“I was assured that the club can continue to run on the same basis as before — and that was enough for me.

“My main concern was always the players being looked after and getting paid on time and the staff being looked after.

“The meeting was very positive and I was assured that there is financial backing to keep the playing budget in place, as well as pay off the debts.

“Despite the troubles off the field, we are not far away on the field.

“As long as the players are looked after, I will be staying and we will be carrying on the good work.

“Hopefully we can sort out the club behind the scenes and continue to win games of football.”

The vote of no-confidence was called after Town officials became increasingly suspicious of whether Greaves and his cohorts had the financial clout to realise his vision for the club.

Incensed by this accusation, Greaves disclosed that he was a self-made multi-millionaire. But he was not prepared to pump money into Town without being sure how it was being spent.

It has also emerged that his takeover of the club was not formally ratified because a deal to ‘buy out’ ex-chairman Brian Holmes did not go through.

Greaves refused to divulge how much he was going to pay Holmes, describing it as “a private business agreement”. But the Dispatch understands the figure was about £30,000 to cover for Holmes’s ‘assets’ at Town’s Watnall Road ground, including the Talk Of The Town social club and the changing rooms.

The money was on the verge of being handed over until Greaves’s concerns about the financial management of the club came to a head.

The next step in the saga for The Yellows is an extraordinary general meeting a week on Sunday (February 12) when a new chairman will be elected.