Lee Picton has been promoted to the role of Chief Executive and Graham Fenton will take sole charge of the first-team as part of a management restructure at South Shields Football Club.

Lee begins his new role with immediate effect, with Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup match at Cheltenham Town to be the final match led by the joint management team.

Jon Shaw becomes Joint Assistant Manager alongside Brian Smith while Keith Finnigan will now operate in his specialist area of finance.

The day-to-day running of the club will be the responsibility of Lee as positive changes are made to facilitate further growth and development at 1st Cloud Arena.

Keith now has an expanded remit after agreeing to join the board of the club’s main shirt sponsor, Business Energy Claims, while he also continues to lead a separate property development business.

It was therefore deemed appropriate to narrow his role at the football club, but he will have a pivotal position supporting Lee and club Chairman Geoff Thompson by providing the timely and accurate financial reporting essential for any successful business.

Mr Thompson said: “As part of our ongoing development, we have reviewed our structure and put in place what we feel is the most appropriate management team to move the club forwards.

“I firmly believe Lee is the perfect candidate for this new role and am delighted he has accepted it.

“His expertise, extraordinary knowledge of the game and strong experience of the club and all who work within it are invaluable assets to us and I’m hugely excited to see how South Shields FC will continue to develop in his image.

“I’m equally delighted that Graham has agreed to become Manager, ably assisted by Jon Shaw, Brian Smith and the rest of our outstanding coaching team.

“Graham and Lee have achieved incredible success over the last four years as Joint Managers and I have full confidence that the positive work and upward trajectory will be maintained by our new management team.

“Jon will be a tremendous addition to that as he steps up from his Academy duties and continues his impressive development as a coach, alongside his playing responsibilities.

“Keith Finnigan will remain a key and valued figure operating in his specialist area of finance. His contribution to the club over the last three-and-a-half years has been invaluable and I can’t stress enough how important he is within our management team.

“I’m hugely enthused about the future at the club as we look to further our progression with an excellent team behind the scenes both in football and non-football roles all pushing in the same direction to deliver success for our town, our magnificent supporters and our loyal sponsors.

“I firmly believe that the years ahead will be very bright and these changes make me even more confident that will be the case.”

Chief Executive Lee Picton said: “Working alongside Graham over the last four seasons as Joint First-Team Managers has been an absolute pleasure and privilege.

“As everyone knows our partnership has been a longstanding one, and although I now move on from it with a heavy heart, I take away with me a multitude of incredible memories and experiences of managing the team together, that I will cherish forever.

“The support Graham has given to me during our time working alongside each other at the club thus far has been fantastic, and I greatly look forward to hopefully many more years of working together but now just in slightly different roles.

“Being asked to take on the role of Chief Executive at our fantastic football club is such an exciting prospect and challenge for me.

“I want to publicly thank Geoff Thompson for his trust in me. I completely appreciate the responsibility that comes with such an important role and I fully intend to give my absolute all in the pursuit of driving the club to yet greater heights, both on and off the pitch, and to build on the tremendous work that Keith Finnigan has carried out and overseen in recent years.

“Undoubtedly, the single biggest thing that fills me with such optimism, hope and motivation in my new role moving forwards, is that our club is awash with great people.

“From our first-team management to our junior section, committee, back office staff, matchday volunteers and incredibly loyal fans and sponsors, we are truly blessed with the people that are tied to our club.

“My job moving forwards is to harness the energy of all these people in the most positive and effective way possible, and if this can be achieved then I truly believe the possibilities for our club are unbelievably exciting.”

First-Team Manager Graham Fenton said: “I’m hugely excited to have been given the responsibility of sole management of the first-team and I’d like to thank Geoff for the faith he has shown in me by giving me this role.

“Myself, Jon and Brian will continue the hard work and will of course be aiming to build on the success that the joint management team has enjoyed over the last four years.

“I know the addition of Jon to the first-team coaching staff will be well-received within the dressing room as he is a much-liked and respected member of the squad and as we all know, has huge knowledge and experience within the game.

“Together with Brian, we are hugely enthused by the prospect of working as a team and feel we will compliment each other exceptionally well.

“I’d like to personally wish Lee well in his new role and I know he will do a fantastic job in progressing the club in other areas.”

Joint Assistant Manager Jon Shaw said: “I want to thank Graham for the opportunity and asking me to join the management team. I can’t wait to get started and help out in any way I can and repay his faith in me to do the job.

“It’s an exciting progression in my career which of course is something I am proud and pleased about but as always my focus will be on the club being successful, and I can’t wait to get started with Graham, Bri, Phil Naisbett, Andy Morris and all the staff and players in continuing that.

“I’m going to miss the 16-19s job but I’m always going to be thankful for the opportunity I had to come over and work alongside and learn from Wess Brown and Jamie Williams. The 16-19s will still be a big part of my job as we’ve told those lads to push for first-team shirts and I’ll no doubt continue being part of their development through watching them play and coaching them.

“I want to thank Lee for the way he has coached and managed me over the last four-and-a-half years as I’ve learned a lot. There’s a part of me that’s sad he won’t be a part of the team now but I’m really happy for him that he’s going to continue here in a role that will no doubt help the club move forward.”

Dear all,

Firstly I hope you are all safe and well and managing to adhere to the lockdown measures. Stay safe, stay at home and protect the NHS.

Hopefully we will see some relaxation of the lockdown in the coming weeks and months and we will all be able to return to some normality.

I thought I’d give you all an update on matters relating to the football club.

Given the lockdown there is very little activity presently taking place at the club.

Despite this, we are preparing the pitch for next season with contractors on site improving the drainage and slitting the pitch for treatment, followed by the application of 90 tonnes of sand and seeding. All of this will ensure the Mariners Park surface is in tip-top condition when we return.

We are also moving the dugouts to the opposite side of the pitch, lowering them into the ground by about 0.5m and increasing their size to a 12 person bench.

In addition we are installing a new turnstile unit near the Metro underpass to allow access to the ground from that location, near the 3G pitch.

Our planning application for further ground improvements is still pending but we remain in contact with STMBC and hope to have a decision soon. If successful this will allow the erection of our new stand to seat approaching 1,000 fans with a better view and more comfort!

As many of you may know, we have challenged the FA and the NPL regarding their decision to null and void the 2019-20 season. We have a strong legal argument and have appointed a leading QC and law firm to support us. There is an important principle at stake here regarding the integrity of the football pyramid and we intend to fight the decision to the end. We are supported by hundreds of clubs and thousands of fans with this endeavour. I will keep you posted on progress.

I want to take this opportunity to thank fans and sponsors for their incredible ongoing support. As you may know we have sold an incredible 500+ season tickets, we have sponsors renewing their support and we have had a great take up on a number of initiatives, including our ‘Tickets To The Future’, our merchandise offers and our Sunday lunch service.

Our Foundation and its work with the Harton and Westoe Miners Welfare has also been affected by the lockdown but the management are ensuring the Foundation is ready to return with a full programme of activities when it is safe to do so. Maintenance at the Welfare site continues and works are planned to improve it further.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support and involvement. All of this proves what a great community club we are building and I’m truly humbled and proud to be part of it.

Please take care of yourself and your family, and I hope to see you back at Mariners Park soon.

Very best wishes,
Geoff.

South Shields FC Foundation has received a significant boost in the form of a £100,000 donation from club chairman Geoff Thompson.

The announcement is the latest in a series of contributions made by Mr Thompson in the last four years to create his dream of a fan-owned Football League club for the town.

The Foundation is the club’s charitable arm that delivers around £1million worth of social and community impact each year across a range of community-based health and well-being activities.

In July 2019 it formed a partnership with Harton and Westoe Miners Welfare to secure the future of the Welfare – which was facing certain closure – in doing so safeguarding six local jobs and helping to preserve the town’s mining heritage.

Head of SSFC Foundation Steve Camm said: “We are obviously absolutely delighted with the generous donation.

“It will help us to continue to grow and develop the work of the Foundation and further increase our social and community impact.

“The Foundation is a registered charity but we are absolutely determined to be self financing through the activities we deliver and this donation will ensure that we can invest in the things we need to guarantee that.

“Geoff has always been a supporter of the Foundation and its work. It is consistent with his values and determination to invest in the club and the town.

“His generosity will benefit hundreds of people locally and help us to thrive as a community-based charitable foundation. We are incredibly humbled by the generous donation.”

The purpose of the Foundation is to promote community participation in healthy activities by people of all ages and abilities. It sits neatly alongside the club’s elite sporting programmes at first-team, ladies and academy level, broadening the offer and widening the participation levels.

The Foundation runs 20 junior football teams and a number of community-based programmes for children from three years old, including its flagship ‘Thinkers and Movers’ programme for three to five-year-olds, ‘Mini Mariners’ for five and six-year-olds, and its most recent addition, the Friday night ‘Skills School’ delivered by some of the first-team players.

But it’s not just about football.

The Foundation’s schools programme is now entering its second year and is fully booked.

Developed by Foundation Programme Delivery Lead Nathan Kew, the programme is being delivered in 11 primary and nursery schools focusing on literacy, numeracy, movement, resilience and social and emotional development.

Our popular schools matchday experience programme is also now in its second year and has seen first-team players visit over 30 schools, with more than 2,500 children visiting the ground to cheer the team on as our next generation of supporters.

Since its formation the Foundation has created or safeguarded nine jobs, two apprenticeships and created 40 regular volunteering opportunities which offer opportunities for qualifications and development.

The recent developments at Harton Welfare have now added bowls, cricket, junior cricket, adult learning, music and fitness activities for adults to the list of activities it supports that help to improve peoples’ health and well-being. The latest addition was McKenzie Dance, which started operating from Harton Welfare in January 2020.

South Shields FC chairman Geoff Thompson said: “The growth and development of the Foundation over the last two years has been exponential, in parallel with the progression of the first-team and academies and consistent with our ambition to create a Football League-ready community club that the whole town can be proud of.

“First and foremost I am making an investment in the town.

“The Foundation creates about £11 worth of social and community impact for local people for every £1 it spends and so I wanted to support and encourage that kind of impact.

“We want to reach the Football League as a community club and the Foundation has an important role to play in ensuring we make a significant contribution to the local economy and local peoples’ health and well-being.”