Morecambe's new general manager is looking forward to the challenges ahead
This time last year, Ben Sadler was looking forward to a new era as Harrogate Town AFC contemplated playing at the highest level in their history.
Fast forward 12 months and he faces the same situation again, this time as Morecambe’s new general manager going into their maiden League One campaign.
Sadler made the move to the Mazuma Stadium over the summer after four years with Harrogate a period in which they rose through the non-league pyramid to reach the EFL.
A month after starting work with the Shrimps he sat down with the Visitor and began by outlining why he chose to make the move to Morecambe.
He said: “I’d spent four years at Harrogate, in which time they got promoted twice from National League North to the Football League.
“That was a massive achievement and a great challenge for everyone - but that’s what gets me up in the morning: that challenge, that hunger to improve myself and others around me.
“The opportunity came up at Morecambe and I saw it as a new challenge at a more established EFL club, one that was serious about being successful.
“That matches my personal values. It’s a new challenge at the right time, we’re in League One and we’re all looking forward to it.”
It could be argued that, in leaving Harrogate for Morecambe, Sadler has swapped clubs accustomed to defying the odds.
The Shrimps have been relegation favourites for the majority of their EFL history, only to defy the pundits on an annual basis before winning promotion in 2020/21.
In Harrogate’s case, they were also tipped for an immediate return to the National League last season but finished in 17th place, comfortably clear of the bottom two.
With that in mind, does Sadler see much in common between Harrogate and Morecambe?
“I think there are similarities in that they don’t have the biggest resources and staffing at either club,” he acknowledged.
“On the pitch, both exceeded expectations but what’s important is we underpin that by supporting them off the pitch.
“There’s no point the first team winning promotion and not having the infrastructure behind the scenes.
“We have to generate income and we have to harness the interest of the people in the area, getting them down to the ground and enjoying what we have to offer.
“The on-pitch and off-pitch areas are massively interlinked: our success is defined by the first team and where they are in the table.
“At Harrogate, that took us into the EFL but it’s only the players and management that can do that - we have to give great support behind the scenes and give them the platform to go and perform every week.”
When announcing Sadler’s appointment, the club defined the general manager’s role as ‘overseeing all non-football operations.’
It’s a much broader job description than that, for instance, of Morecambe boss Stephen Robinson, whose role may be largely defined by what happens on a pitch come Saturday afternoons and Tuesday nights.
Having been in place for a month, Sadler is confident all areas of the club can marry together and build for a brighter future on and off the pitch.
He said: “In terms of how we do it, Stephen gets the playing budget and we let him get on with it and take it in whatever direction he wants.
“The general manager’s role is everything off the pitch. We work together and we have to be massively supportive, not just on the playing side but the business side as well.
“We have to make sure we improve and develop the commercial events, not just the matchday experience - it’s everything non-football.
“There are some brilliant people here who are very talented and doing very good jobs.
“It’s for me to come in, making sure I bring it all together, and that we work to the same objective.”
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