An update from Graham Fenton

Graham Fenton has provided an update regarding the off-season recruitment activity and news on players listed in negotiations with the Club from the retained playing squad announcement.

In his message to Spartans fans, he said: “We do realise that this off-season has been very slow in terms of signings, rest assured, we have spoken to many players, unfortunately, we have only managed to get one over the line at the moment that being Harrison (Clark), which we’re delighted with, but hopefully more will follow swiftly. There’s a lot of irons in the fire at this point and we appreciate everybody’s patience in us trying to build a squad which will be competitive next season.

“We’re not just bringing in anybody to play for the Club, we have to try and bring in the best players that are available to us, unfortunately, some of the players that we have been in for haven’t agreed to sign because they have been made offers way ahead of what we can get to. It’s very difficult to compete with our local rivals, there are several teams in the North East competing to sign players and inevitably that is leading to an inflated market.

“We have around about eight trialists coming in pre-season to have a look at to see if they can step up to the mark, we’re hoping that one or two rough diamonds can come out of that group too.

“There’s an awful lot of work being done behind the scenes, we understand the frustrations but all we can ask is for patience while we try to build a squad that’s good enough to compete at the level we’re at.”

Players listed as in negotiations with the Club

Michael Richardson will not be signing a new contract with the Club due to work commitments.

The 31-year-old midfielder returned to Croft Park for his second spell last summer having previously made 102 appearances between 2014 and 2016 scoring 28 goals – he featured in 31 Vanarama National League North fixtures during the 2022/23 campaign and scored one goal.

Richardson also notched a further two goals in FA Cup action including the decisive strike to earn Spartans a replay tie away to Wrexham at the Racecourse Ground as well as netting in the three-two defeat in northeast Wales three days later.

Fenton said: “He just cannot commit, with Newcastle progressing into the Champions League, his role changes now and he’s going to have to do an awful lot more travelling within his job, he cannot commit to another season at the Club. He’s not even sure whether he’s going to be able to play football at all because there’s a lot more hours involved in what he’s going to be doing.

“We would like to thank Michael for his time at the club, he’s a fantastic character and he’ll be a big miss because of his personality on and off the pitch. We’re sorry to see him go but we wish him the absolute best in his future endeavours.”

Matty Dopson decided to move onto pastures new with a switch to Ashington AFC as he pursues further first-team game time.

The 19-year-old made seven first-team appearances in the league last campaign for the Club and scored once against Kidderminster Harriers.

Everyone at Blyth Spartans would like to place on record their thanks to Michael and Matty for their service and commitment to the Club and wish them well in the present and future.

Speaking on the situation regarding Lewis McNall, Fenton said: “Macca has basically been in Gary Neasham’s hands, he’s trained with us recently and he’s moving okay. I don’t particularly want to say a figure of time, but we want to see how he gets on, gradually build his training load up not putting him at risk and hopefully, he can come through on the positive side to his injury.

“We haven’t been able to kind of offer him anything at this point because we don’t know exactly how the injury is going to play out over the next couple of months so it’s just a case of monitoring where he’s at, gradually increasing the workload as we go, and hopefully we can get to a point where we can agree terms with him.

“At this minute in time, he’s obviously been through an awful lot in the last nine months or so since the injury, it’s now time to build up his training load and see how he reacts to it. We’re hoping to get to the stage where we can offer him a contract, we do realise he’s a very good player and he’s a goal scorer which we’re going to need but that has to be done at the right time – we need to have an idea that the injury is more stable.”

Posted by BSAFC Media Team