St Francis Rangers set for return to Southern Combination Football League

Del Tobias
Del Tobias

St Francis Rangers will be back in the Southern Combination Football League next season after Sussex-based coach Del Tobias was given the green light to rebuild the club that folded last season with ‘ambitious’ aims.

Currently manager of Whitehawk Under 18’s, Tobias, also co-founder of Learn Play Achieve Soccer Academy, is taking over St Francis with a partner with plans to ‘try and progress through the leagues’.

Tobias said: “The club was going down the pan.

“I saw it was dropping out the league, then everyone walked away from it. I’ve looked around other county league clubs but none of them really fit the model that I want to work under so it made sense to take on a club where I’m the owner of it, with a friend, and we can do what we want.

“Statistically it was the worst club in England at one point so I can’t do any worse.”

Rangers pulled out of the Southern Combination Football League in December.

At the time chairman Rob Ward and secretary John Goss released a statement which said: ““It’s a sad day for St Francis Rangers 1st Team. We hang up our boots for good.

“Almost three years to the day we were dubbed ‘The Worst Football Team in England’ and contemplated pulling out then, but we could not afford the fine. This time we have no option.

“This has not been an easy decision. We hoped we could see the season out, but it was not to be.”

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Tobias also revealed plans to hold an Open Day on Sunday June 2, inviting people such as current Learn Play Achieve academy players and players interested in joining the project at St Francis to come down and discuss the plans for the future, as he looks to manage Whitehawk’s youth team and run St Francis simultaneously.

He said: “We’re looking to have an Open Day on Sunday June 2, at 2pm onwards, and we’re going to invite people down to the ground. Like our academy players, interested players, just to come down and see what plans we’ve got, and we will explain what we want the club to be.

“We want it to be young players coming through, with a few older players to help the young players to have a ground where they can play men’s football.”

He continued: “But the project is bigger.

“We want to try and progress through the leagues, we want to work within the local community with schools and others areas, and link our LPA Academy to it.

“Over the next few years we want to introduce an Under 23’s, we want to introduce Women’s football, it’s a long term project but no-one can tell me I can’t do this or that because me and my partner are the owners.”

As co-owner, Tobias also discussed plans to build a sustainable model at the club, giving opportunities in the future for people, such as students, to get work and help the club progress.

He said: “Eventually we’d like to have a club model where people that finish university can potentially come and work in the club because we’ve got through the leagues and we can generate money with other projects. We want to create jobs within that football structure, that’s the plan.

“It’s quite ambitious but I know it will work.”