Mark Morsley felt he had to play his part in the financial crisis at AFC Sudbury by stepping down as manager and director

Mark Morsley has revealed the decision taken to have to ask all their contracted players to voluntarily make themselves redundant in the coming days left him with little choice but to step down as manager and director of AFC Sudbury.

The former Needham Market and Leiston promotion-winning manager returned for a second spell at the BetVictor Isthmian League North Division side three years ago in October.

But despite having talked only the week before about moving his project of integrated a large amount of academy players into the first team to the next level, it was announced by the club on Monday that he had relinquished his roles with immediate effect.

Mark Morsley pictured in his first game back in charge of AFC Sudbury in October, 2017Picture: Mark Bullimore

The club statement and chairman Andrew Long said the uncertainty and financial pressures of the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent suspension of football was “entirely responsible”.

Morsley re-iterated that, explaining how he had volunteered to step aside during an emergency finance meeting with chairman Long and finance director Richard Instance in his role as commercial director and with his background in the financial sector.

“Every business in the world would like to have money tucked away for a rainy day,” he said.

Former AFC Sudbury manager Mark Morsley on the sidelinesPicture Mark Westley
Former AFC Sudbury manager Mark Morsley on the sidelinesPicture Mark Westley

“But at AFC Sudbury a big part of our income was set to come from the big marquee weekend in May where we had a sold out sportsman’s dinner, a live band, and even weddings, I believe. That is now not going to happen.

“It was the right thing to do as I knew that the next day the players were going to be asked if they would take voluntary redundancy.”

He said his decision had been done “for all the right reasons” but while he has ruled out coming back as manager if football were to resume to complete this season – with academy chief Danny Laws understood to be set to step up – he would look at returning ahead of the new campaign starting.

He said: “Part of the conversation was that when things come back to normality would I return to the job at Sudbury? And I said I would have to make a decision at that time.

Mark Morsley, pictured ahead of the 2019/20 season starting, at The MEL Group StadiumPicture: Richard Marsham
Mark Morsley, pictured ahead of the 2019/20 season starting, at The MEL Group StadiumPicture: Richard Marsham

“The strange thing is that things were starting to come to fruition with the project I started three years ago.

“But I cannot make those decisions now as we don’t know what world we will be coming back into three, four, five or six months later.

“We don’t know if any football will continue this season or if they will pack it up.”

He added: “Knowing other staff members who would lose their jobs and the need to keep the people who deliver the education, it was clearly the right decision for the football club.

“What we could not let happen was allow this great club, with not just the 20 years of history but from the history of the two clubs that formed it, to fall away and die. There are so many things going on here, including developing players in the youth teams.

“I had to fall on my sword, so to speak. Fundamentally someone had to start the process. This is bad and we have to move on and I said I am going first.”

But Morsley, as revealed in the club statement, will still be playing an active part in ensuring the club’s future by helping them in a financial advisory role, using his expertise as the owner of Mark J Morsley and Associates Ltd, an independent financial advisory firm based in Manningtree.

“There are some financial challenges that they need help with and with my financial experience I am the best qualified to do that,” he said.

“Although I will not be sitting on the board of directors anymore I will be taking part in the finance meetings which are taking place on SKYPE now, of course, not face to face.

“From my point of view I am going to support the club with this work to get them in a good place to be ready for when football is playing again.

“If it is right for me to then go back as first-team manager that is what will happen.”

He said he had been touched by the senior players’ response in wanting to know if he had been forced out after receiving the club’s voluntary redundancy address. It is not yet known how many of the 12 have taken up the offer.

“The first-team players wanted to know if I had been booted out of the door, and it was nice to see the players felt like that as football is a funny game and it shows they is a little bit of loyalty left,” he said.

“A big reason they came to the football club was what I sold them.

“They wanted assurances from the football club that if any football is played this season they would want to be used and paid, and they go those assurances.

“From my point of view if I am going to go back as manager I would want to go back and be able to resign those players.”

* See Thursday’s Suffolk Free Press for all the latest on the emerging situation at AFC Sudbury.

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