A big summer lies ahead for Lowestoft Town after National League North relegation pain

Gary Keyzor. Picture: MIKE HOWES

Gary Keyzor. Picture: MIKE HOWES - Credit: Archant

A week after going down MARK ARMSTRONG talks to Lowestoft Town chairman Gary Keyzor about what the future holds for the Blues.

It's been an incredibly difficult season for Ady Gallagher, middle, and Lowestoft. Picture: FOCUS IM

It's been an incredibly difficult season for Ady Gallagher, middle, and Lowestoft. Picture: FOCUS IMAGES - Credit: Michael Sedgwick/Focus Images

A week has passed since Lowestoft's relegation was confirmed last weekend following a 1-1 draw against Gloucester City.

A Suffolk Premier Cup victory over Leiston took place in the intervening period but, in truth, it did little to quell the pain of the Trawlerboys' drop back into the third tier of the non-league pyramid.

Keyzor, who has helped preside over an unprecedented period of success at Crown Meadow, is still hurting that the club's two-year stint in the National League North was brought to an end on goal difference.

The guilt stems from watching his club toil during that time as they desperately tried to cling to their hard-earned Conference status.

Lowestoft's sinking feeling was realised last weekend.

Lowestoft's sinking feeling was realised last weekend. - Credit: Matt Wilkinson/Focus Images Ltd

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It wasn't supposed to be like this. Lowestoft's upward curve was meant to continue following their play-off final win in 2014. However, being placed in the northern division set the Blues on a path which led to Saturday. Under-resourced and, in truth, just plain out of luck, Lowestoft limped out of the division.

Keyzor had seen this coming and a new committee was set up two years ago to seek new investment into the club to keep them moving forward. Not enough could be found and, in the summer, boss Ady Gallagher was handed the unenviable task of managing a small band of quality players in the hope that injuries and suspensions wouldn't take their toll.

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It all caught up with Lowestoft and a draw against Gloucester allowed Brackley to pip them to that last remaining safe spot.

'We can't take anything away from the players and the manager,' said Keyzor.

'We couldn't create enough finances for them – once injuries and suspensions took their toll we really paid the price.

'We had to go with a smaller squad and take our chances. The travel hurt us as well – you can't really expect players to be up at the crack of down and then produce their best but that's how we had to run it. I feel guilty that I couldn't provide more for the team.'

Lowestoft's presentation evening takes place tonight and a few days will be taken to digest the club's relegation before the committee meets and decides the way forward.

It's been a steep learning curve for everyone at Crown Meadow – not many knew how tough it would be on and off the field in the aftermath of their play-off final victory against Hornchurch two season ago.

'It hasn't been what I expected,' said Keyzor.

'I didn't know how much it would take out financially, how time-consuming it would be – it's been really tough and we have to look at where we are.

'We know what it takes to get out of the Ryman (Premier Division) – we were always up there in our four years there – and we've got to do it again.'

Keyzor wouldn't rule out stepping down as chairman this summer but only if someone comes forward who is able to progress the Blues once again.

'I've said over the last 12 months, we are working on limited finances. We tried to get more people involved in the running of the club but they're not out there at the moment,' added the Lowestoft chief.

'If someone wanted to come in, I would be happy to stand down as chairman.

'We run the club on five or six people doing everything. It's an extreme example but you go to FC United and they've got 200 odd people wanting to help. We don't have that.'

A return to the Ryman Premier League seems inevitable – a division which holds one glorious memory and three painful ones in the form of play-off finals.

Keyzor is confident of keeping hold of the majority of the squad but a lot will depend on what is decided over the next week or so.

'We can all take a few days to take stock of the situation and see how we're going to move forward,' he added after praising how well Gallagher had managed the club in difficult circumstances.

'There are lots of decisions that need to be made, things like season ticket prices, admission prices – but we need a few days to get our heads round everything.

'I hope we can keep the majority of the squad in place. There are still around half under contract and around half that aren't. Obviously these are the sort of things that need to be discussed.'

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