Graham Westley buy-in is a myth

Peter Ridsdale
Peter Ridsdale
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Preston North End have rubbished suggestions that Graham Westley has any financial interest in the club.

Rumours were doing the rounds that he had put money into North End when appointed manager last year.

When boss of Farnborough Town, Westley had a financial controlling interest there.

And his business interests outside of the game have further fuelled the rumours of involvement beyond the PNE manager’s office.

But Peter Ridsdale– advisor to owner Trevor Hemmings – says such stories of financial involvement at Deepdale are wide of the mark.

“The thing that makes me angry is that by answering that question, it almost gives it credibility,” Ridsdale told the Evening Post.

“Unequiv-ocally, the answer is no.

“He hasn’t been asked to and we would never put ourselves in a position where the manager was tied to the football club in that way.

“A manager has to be hireable and fire-able.”

Ridsdale has found himself fielding many questions from PNE supporters during the poor run of results which has seen the club slide down to 17th place in League One.

Fans have been calling for Westley’s head in recent weeks, the home form a particular worry with no Deepdale league victories since the end of September.

Ridsdale understands the frustration coming from the stands and freely admits recent games have not been pleasurable for him either.

He said: “I don’t sit there watching losing football and enjoy it. On a Saturday we all want to be there watching winning football.

“When people send you criticism and e-mails saying, ‘You don’t know what you are doing’, it doubly hurts because you know the fans are hurting because Preston are losing football matches.

“I’ve had this before. Cardiff had what I considered an outstanding five-year period when I was there.

“But I got criticised all the time at Cardiff.

“They went from fighting relegation to 12th, to 11th, to 7th, to 4th, to an FA Cup final and Championship play-off final.

“People rightly get emotive because it’s their football club and they want wins.

“If there was a quick fix, everyone would be at the top.

“We have to carry on doing what we think is right.

“I totally understand the fans’ patience, although I think a lot of the criticism is unfounded here.

“We have been through a massive revolution and some of the criticism of the players has been unfair.

“We have some talented players here and I’m sure the club, in the near future, will shoot up and win football matches.”

It is 14 months since Ridsdale was brought to Deepdale by PNE owner Hemmings.

That spell has been an eventful one, both at club and personal level. He said: “I was brought in to work for Mr Hemmings’ company to act as the bridge between 
the executive and the ownership – nothing has changed there.

“I was brought in for my football experience to work in a club which had a cost-base which was still in line with the Championship rather than within the income streams of League One.

“The last 12 months or so has been a challenge to get the wage bill in line with League One standards and the financial fair play rules which the Football League has in League One.

“The financial fair play has obviously been a challenge in itself.

“We were coming from a position where we had a number of contracted players who were too highly-paid for League One.

“We had the revolution, with Graham brought in with a clear focus that the ownership were looking to Graham to get us back into the Championship sooner rather than later.

“We always knew that with bringing in such change in such a short space of time, it might take a while for players to settle down, which has been the case.”