Today the club has announced that Paul Gwinn will take over as Chariman for the short term until the restructure is complete.
Steve Thompson's statement is reproduced below:
Most members and supporters of Dagenham & Redbridge FC will already be aware that at a meeting of the Board of the Club on Monday evening Dave Bennett announced his decision to step down as Chairman of the club with immediate effect. Whilst he had privately made me aware of this decision over a week ago I was nevertheless saddened by his actions and more importantly the fact that he felt this was the right course of action to take at this time.
In his place the Board unanimously elected Paul Gwinn JP as Chairman. A long standing Director of the club who has been associated with us for more than 25 years Paul will hold the position until either the structure of the club is changed with the injection of fresh capital or until the club’s AGM in November.
However I would like to put on record the Board’s overwhelming vote of thanks given to Dave Bennett at our meeting last night. Dagenham & Redbridge FC owe Dave a great debt of gratitude for everything he has done, not just as Chairman for the past three years, but over the past 18 years in which he has been involved with the club. During that period he has not only financially contributed nearly £400,000 by way of sponsorship and donations but he has also given his time and immense business acumen for the benefit of the club. Speaking as the person who first met Dave in April 1998 and introduced him to the club he has become a true friend and confidant over the ensuing years and he has been a tremendous support to me as MD during his Chairmanship and he will be sorely missed.
Regrettably Dave’s final game as Chairman, a great 5 2 win away at Solihull Moors on Saturday, was marred by the vitriolic actions of two or three mindless so called supporters which were nasty and utterly reprehensible. I am pleased that that this action by a small minority of the supporters who travelled was not only unanimously condemned by the Board last night but also by many of the supporters who attended the game. Dave and I travelled to Solihull by train and on our journey home encountered several supporters who all made the point of coming up to us to distance themselves from the 2 or 3 individuals who were screaming some very nasty and obscene words at both Dave and I.
I have also received an e-mail from two other supporters again wishing to distance themselves from the individuals but also apologising, although they certainly have nothing to apologise for. In the near 40 years I have been involved with first Dagenham and now Dagenham & Redbridge FC I have witnessed (thankfully very few) some distasteful and at times violent actions from some, but the obscene chants on Saturday, in front of families and small children, to get out of “Our Club” directed at someone who has done so much and has earnt the right to be an integral part of this great club was completely wrong.
At the Board meeting last night it was agreed that whilst the ongoing process for changes in the club’s structure continues, peaceful protests for or against will be tolerated, but any repeat of the actions on Saturday will be treated with zero tolerance and our Safety Officer will be instructed to use the full weight of our ground regulations and indeed the law of the land when stewarding supporters. It pains me to have to make such a statement as I know 99% of our supporters condemn the actions of this small minority as much as I and the Board do and I would like to thank the majority for their continued support of the club and the team. But unless this is stamped out now we run the risk of it escalating further.
Finally with regard to the proposed timetable for the possible restructuring of the club and new investment I am meeting with solicitors tomorrow to hopefully finalise the procedure needed to be agreed by the Full & Life Members and it is our intention to write to the Full & Life Members with these details later this week. The new Chairman hopes to be able to make a full statement to this effect later this week.
In the meantime I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at tonight’s National League fixture v Dover Athletic which has the potential of being an exciting game.
Steve Thompson MBE