MICHAEL PEARLMAN SAYS: Why Lottery Les has been so good for County
10:02am Tuesday 10th December 2013 in Sport
YOU might have noticed many improvements at Rodney Parade, courtesy of Newport County AFC chairman Les Scadding.
Les – as he insists he’s called – Isn’t one who is likely to erect a statue of Michael Jackson, or insist his latest signing eats a goats’ testicle, he’s a practical pragmatist living his dream by being involved with a professional Football League side.
He’s been chairman of County since August 2012 and a multi-millionaire since June 2009 when a £1 stake won him just north of £45 million.
But that doesn’t tell the story of the man; instances of fame and fortune rarely tend to do so.
It’s around three years since I was first introduced to Les by former chairman Chris Blight, who would confide in me during an interview that he intended to ‘seduce’ Mr Scadding.
The thought process was that if Blight, a squash enthusiast and estate agent could be so bewitched and enthralled by a football club; imagine how much a bona fide football lover could be seduced by the Exiles.
And of course, the rest is history. Scadding was invited to game after game by Blight and his fellow directors and he was always offered hospitality and a place in away board rooms. He did indeed catch the bug.
He came on board, helped to finance signings and eventually stepped into the breach as chairman when Blight was ridiculously under scrutiny and decided to walk away.
Since becoming chairman he’s stood steadfastly behind his manager, supported him in every way possible and constantly been an ambassador for the club with media duties and in embracing the County fans.
It’s only when you look at recent events, you realise how grateful we should be to have found a supporter like Les.
How grateful we are to have a chairman who thinks an extravagance is buying a giant screen or Christian Jolley.
Not the kind of chairman who would think nothing of changing the name of the club. Or the kit colour. Or the city in which they play.
Hull, Cardiff and Wimbledon fans will be nodding along in agreement at this point.
For all intents and purposes, Newport County are now the main focus of a fan, someone who thinks about the game and enjoys it in the same way you and your mates do in the pub.
When Les won the lottery he was £68 overdrawn and couldn’t afford to fix the holes in the soles of his shoes.
He takes the responsibility seriously . He understands what it means to the fans because he is a football fan (albeit, formerly a Bristol fan, I won’t divulge which one).
He picked Newport because he’s lived in the area for years and he loves it. He has property all over the world and a love for Barbados, yet you’re more likely to find him at Hartlepool or Oxford on a wet Wednesday evening.
His aim is to take the club as far as he can, to enjoy every second of the ride in the meantime and when the time is right, to step aside and hand over the reins to someone who can take them even further.
It’s of course impossible to predict the level of success he’ll have, to with any certainty assess how far Newport’s current momentum can take them.
But I take great heart in knowing that, in the meantime, we aren’t suddenly going to find ourselves in the midst of some ridiculous drama and self-inflicted meltdown.
Les Scadding won’t sack Tim Harris and replace him with a work experience kid, nor will he tell a group of fans with a strong opinion that he doesn’t ‘care if they die.’
Indeed, how crazy has the situation with madcap owners in British football become that I haven’t even mentioned the Venkys or the worst case scenario, a series of flakes that have run Portsmouth into the ground, from FA Cup winners and Premier League force to possible non-league oblivion.
Les Scadding will merely continue support Newport County AFC in every way he can.
He is the right man in the right role at the right time in his life and the beneficiaries are some of the longest suffering supporters in British football.
These are the good times and long may they continue. But the next time you’re toasting County’s success, or shaking your head as you read the latest madness from any number of clubs, remember how lucky we are that ‘Lottery Les’ is as dependable as they come.
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