Cheltenham Town Ladies make three off-field appointments as they bid to return from lockdown stronger on and off pitch

Catrina P. Smith

Cheltenham Town Ladies have made three new off-field appointments and chairman Andy Liddle believes they can be instrumental in helping the club progress.

Simon Tonge has been installed as general manager, with Mark Agg-Jones coming in as commercial manager and Lauren Austin taking the role of matchday operations manager.

Cheltenham-based Tonge, 29, is head of racing sales at Newbury Racecourse and is a men’s season ticket holder at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.

He attended Sir Thomas Rich’s Grammar School in Gloucester and has a degree in business studies from UWE.

He has worked in various commercial roles at Newbury Racecourse for five years and will be reviewing the club’s match and training facilities initially, with a much wider brief longer term.

Agg-Jones, 47, is a barrister and football agent. He lives in Dorset and boasts extensive contacts in the British football community.

He is keen to help Cheltenham drive revenue and will manage all future events, including project managing all future fixtures at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium

Austin, 30, is currently an operational improvement manager with Thames Water and lives in Swindon.

She has an MSc is sports directorship from the University of Salford and impressed Liddle with her ideas to improve the matchday experience for all.

Liddle is hopeful that Cheltenham can push for promotion to the third tier of the women’s game once the pandemic has passed and he feels their new additions behind the scenes will support their ambitions.

“Player, management and coaching recruitment has gone so well in recent seasons, that we are now well placed to be pushing for promotion in the next couple of full seasons once the pandemic has passed, with a very young, talented squad,” he said.

Andy Liddle
Andy Liddle

“We have taken the opportunity the downtime has provided to beef up our backroom operations too.

“I am delighted with both how well the recruitment process has gone, and the extremely high level of talent we have managed to attract into these positions.

“Everyone is looking forward to working with Simon, Mark and Lauren on their new ideas and the future development of the club”

The new arrivals are all part of Liddle’s aim to add more professionalism to the club.

“We’re now scouting competitors like Portsmouth ahead of the second round of the FA Cup for example,” he said.

“We’ve learned from Southampton, and their professional set up. Clearly their manager (Marieanne Spacey) has 91 England caps and is extremely well connected.

“They enjoy funding from their male counterparts and train at Staplewood.

“One thing they do is employ a general manager, and while financially we’re not in that position, we have recruited similarly on a voluntary, part-time basis.”

Cheltenham’s last game before the season was suspended was an away win over Exeter City in the Women’s FA Cup on December 13.

They have only played five league matches this term, but Liddle has already been hugely impressed by the impact made by manager Tom Davies since succeeding Alex Cheal in the role.

Tom Davies is Cheltenham Town Ladies' new manager
Tom Davies is Cheltenham Town Ladies’ new manager

“Tom lives and breathes the game,” Liddle said. “Alex did a great job in giving the club a sense of direction and meaningful results at tier four, but Tom has challenged me more than any previous manager as we look to improve in every area.

“He has recruited very well, with a two-year plan to gain promotion.

“He’s driving training more often, with better kit and at better facilities, with better coaches to support him.

“This has been really challenging during the pandemic as All Saints and Hartpury have closed.

“We were training at Evesham on Tuesdays and Thursdays, although everything below tier two has now halted as part of the lockdown.”

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