by Keith Hamblin
JIMMY Crease is to continue in his role as manager of Berwick Rangers next season.
There had been some doubt surrounding his future when he revealed, during the build-up to January’s Scottish Cup tie against Celtic, that he might step down at the end of the current campaign.
But at last week’s annual general meeting of shareholders, chairman Brian Porteous confirmed Crease would be staying on for 2011-12, and he also announced that talks were on-going with his assistant Ian Little with regards to an extension to his existing deal.
Crease, who was not at the meeting on Wednesday, later confirmed the situation when he said: “The chairman knew what the situation was and he asked me to think it over. It was obvious he was looking for an answer at this moment in time, because if I wasn’t staying on then steps would have to be put in motion to find a successor.
“But after meeting with the chairman and hearing the board’s plans for the future I have decided to stay on.
“I did say earlier on that if we didn’t qualify for the play-offs I would consider that to be a failure and I would step down.
“The results in the last few games have not gone our way, but overall, despite a few disappointments along the way (especially after the turn of the year) I have considered the situation carefully and I have now agreed to stay on.”
Crease says the deal has all been done with “a shake of the hand”.
“I do not have a contract,” he said. “In fact I have never had a contract. I trust the chairman. He is a straight-forward, honest businessman. I am happy with the way the directors are taking the club forward and I am quite happy to operate on that basis.”
Crease says he still has the drive, enthusiasm and time to continue in the job and is looking forward to seeing out the rest of this season, although he has already starting planning ahead for the next campaign.
“I have already sat down with the chairman to discuss which players I would like to keep at the club next season,” he said.
“Damon Gray is on a two-year deal and will be back next year, and of course it’s been an open secret that Andy McLean will also be coming back, but other than that we haven’t made any announcements yet.
“That is something I will be working on over the coming weeks.”
Crease said that despite the team perhaps not seeing out the season in the manner he had hoped, he has some quality players at the club.
It is their commitment and the manner in which the directors go about their business, plus the fact that he is likely to have a bigger budget to work with next season, that have persuaded him to continue in his role.
“A bigger budget is not the only reason I am staying,” he added. “But, yes, there will be some more money in the budget next season as a result of the Celtic tie earlier this year. I don’t know how much that budget will be because it hasn’t been discussed yet, but the chairman has indicated there will be some more money available and that’s good enough for me.
“I haven’t been dissatisfied with the budget I have had to work with in the past. It has been what the club could afford, but having a little bit more will certainly not do us any harm.”
Crease has a strong affinity with Berwick, having spent part of his playing career there before returning in a management role.
He is now in his third stint as manager and says that even if he had decided to stand down from the job he would have continued to have an association of some kind with the club.
“I was general manager before, and that is perhaps a role I might have taken on again. But now that I have agreed to stay on as team manager my focus is on how to take the team forward out on the pitch.
“The directors are taking the club forward off the park: new dressing rooms, an improved balance sheet and improvements to the pitch show that. It’s my job to take them forward on the park and that’s what I hope to do.”