Crawley Town’s mystery backer finally revealed

JAMES BOARDMAN / 07967642437.Crawley Town Football Clubs new Chairman Dave Pottinger. April 27, 2013. ENGSUS00120130828141707
JAMES BOARDMAN / 07967642437.Crawley Town Football Clubs new Chairman Dave Pottinger. April 27, 2013. ENGSUS00120130828141707
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Crawley Town’s mystery backer has finally revealed his identity five years after getting involved.

Reds chairman Dave Pottinger announced the man who helped Crawley up from the Conference into the Football League is Thailand-based businessman Paul John Hayward.

Over a period of time he and other backers have contributed £5 million. Everyone should be appreciating Paul Hayward and other backers for what they’ve done for the club.”

Crawley Town chief executive Michael Dunford

He read an open letter from Hayward to fans at a season-ticket holders’ meeting with the board at the Checkatrade.com Stadium on Friday night.

Hayward declared he had a business in Thailand and wanted to take a club with gates of 600 from the Conference to the Championship, just for the fun of it.

He said both he and his associate Mickey Doherty have passed the Football League’s fit and proper persons test, although they didn’t have to.

The move has come following the exclusion of three fans for what the club said was a campaign of disruptive behaviour.

Chief executive Michael Dunford praised the action which has finally cleared an air of mystery around the club.

He said: “There’s always been a lot of mystery about them. Paul’s an extremely open person. I thought most people at the meeting appreciated the letter and the transparency.

“We are lucky to have got one or two benefactors and Paul indicated he would continue to support the club.

“People have been pointing their fingers saying they were not open. But I have worked at five or six clubs and they haven’t been as open as this one.”

Dunford wants to now move on from talking about the behind the scenes issues to let Mark Yates’ side get on with playing football.

He said: “I would like to draw a line in the sand, we have a job to get on with working on limited income and gates.”

Dunford also revealed the club is holding meetings with the three banned supporters.

He said: “The club and directors have received some unfair criticism lately.

“Over a period of time he and other backers have contributed £5 million. Without that on the gates we’ve got we’d still be in the Conference!

“Everyone should be appreciating Paul Hayward and other backers for what they’ve done for the club.

“We need to look forward collectively and do not want people to rock the boat.”

Season ticket holder Geoff Thornton said: “I was impressed with the frank and open nature of the board. Things should be better now and maybe a more conciliatory attitude will allow the exclusion orders to be reconsidered.”

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