NEXT season will see the start of a new era for Bridgwater Town as they merge with Yeovil United to create Bridgwater United Football Club.
And CEO Adam Murry says the changes at Fairfax Park aren’t stopping there.
He said: ’This exciting announcement is only just the beginning for Bridgwater United FC. Supporters and indeed the town as a whole, can expect further organisational developments to be released in the coming weeks.
“There has been an incredible amount of work undertaken in recent months and it will demonstrate our determination to return the women’s side to the Women’s Super League (WSL) and see our men’s team progress through the National League System.”
Ewan Greenhill, Chief Operating Officer and club director said: “The ‘One Club’ approach will enable Bridgwater United Football Club to acquire the mantel of one of the biggest football clubs within the South-West region.
“The one club will now offer football through their women’s and men’s first team sides, the Under 21s Women’s FA National reserve league squad, a newly introduced Under 23’s men’s squad, the Dual Career Academy Education programme, the existing girl’s academy and the newly launched boys academy with trials beginning in May.
“As one club, the current strength and potential upside of growth in both the male and female pathways will provide a stronger future for the club and the town of Bridgwater itself. The club will now operate with an increased amount of full time resources and with a greater pool of experienced people in coaching, administration, commercial and marketing.”
Yeovil United FC are currently seated one league under the Women’s Championship league in the football pyramid while Bridgwater Town FC are in step 5 of the men’s non-league pyramid.
Holistic player development programme
A spokesperson said: “The club will feature an already well-established and FA-approved elite holistic player development programme and will work towards an Elite Academy Status within both the male and female pyramids. The academy will support the development of young players in Somerset and the South West from Under 9s right through to Under 23s.
“The academy programme will replicate the excellent girl’s provision currently in place which has a proven track record of developing players through the pathway and ultimately receiving their first team chance. The aim will continue to be the development of competitive players who play an attractive brand of the game while ensuring they are set up for life away from football.
“An excellent standard of UEFA licenced coaches will lead their development with individual reviews and a rounded approach to coaching the game through technical competency, tactical understanding, physical literacy and will support personal growth through education on a positive mentality and social responsibility.
“The boys programme will join the girls in playing in the Junior Premier League (JPL) for their games programme. Education is paramount to each player’s development and with the clubs official education partner Bridgwater and Taunton College, the dual-career opportunities for 16+ year old aspiring footballers will grow with a clear path to develop their football specific skills while in further and higher education.
Jamie Sherwood, First Team Manager of the women’s squad, said: “The decision to see the clubs merge as Bridgwater United is the right one to allow for our own sustainability and to allow the region to have an even higher profile female football club than it already does.
“The vision and the commitment to achieving the ambition that Mr Murry has set out for Bridgwater United takes me back to the days when the club first took its journey to the top tier of the women’s game and this infectious ambition is a huge contributing factor as to why I believe it’s right to provide a joint home next to our headquarters at the college and pool resources.
Heart of the community
Chairman Bob Buckingham added: “This merger will further enhance our place within the heart of our local community something that has been a key driver during the five years I have been directly involved with the club.
“The success of our ‘United 4 Bridgwater’ Marathon Challenge, which raised over £10,500 for local charities, was a testimony to that commitment. The clubs joining forces is the first step towards our ambitious, extensive plans for the future at Fairfax Park. It is a truly pivotal moment for our club as we embark on what we are certain will be an exciting and fulfilling journey for us all.”
Dave Pearse, joint manager of the men’s first team said: “The joining of the two clubs and the array of future developments makes it a really exciting time to be part of this big project, not just on the pitch, but off it as well. This will make the football club the centre of the community and something for the whole town to be a part of.”
Fellow joint manager Karl Baggaley added: “What a great opportunity for the town of Bridgwater to be involved in this exciting news, starting from a new academy with a natural progression into men’s football and beyond with the standard of coaching and facilities available.
“I’m really pleased to be part of this and am looking forward to the challenges ahead. After the success of our charity event it proves both the men and women’s team will be United for both the club and each other. Let’s bring many years of success and enjoyment to everyone involved with Bridgwater United.”