Torquay United Football Club

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Torquay United Football Club's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Torquay United Football Club is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Clarke Osborne, Chairman
The view of Bristow’s Bench,
Torquay United’s main
Following relegation from the National League at the end of
the 2017/18 season, Torquay United now compete in the
National League South, the sixth tier of English football.
Since then, the club has seen its fair share of excitement, but
looks now at achieving a central goal: regaining its status as one
of the 92 clubs that competes in the prestigious English Football
League. Chairman Clarke Osborne here discusses where
Torquay United are now, where the club and its supporters
want to be and how they plan on getting there.
We were first elected to the Football League in 1920, and have subsequently
played across a number of tiers in English football. Our latest promotion to the
third tier, now known as League One, was in 2004. In 2009, we beat Cambridge
United at Wembley to win the National League play-off final and return to the
Football League. Though we have never quite reached the second tier, now the
Championship, we hope to soon return to the fourth tier of English league football.
A community of local fans
One of the things that makes us so unique as a club is our geography. In the
southwest, there are only three football clubs competing in the fifth tier or above:
Plymouth Argyle, Exeter City and Torquay United. Other regions of the country –
such as London and the North West – are saturated with a variety of sometimes
dozens of different clubs. For them, a local derby match can be only 15 minutes
away; for us, it can be up to 150 miles.
»Chairman: Clarke Osborne
»Established in 1899
»Based in Torquay, Devon
»Services: Association football
club competing in the
Conference South
»No. of employees: 55
»Stadium capacity: 6,200
»Strong cohort of between 200
and 400 dedicated away fans
»Beat Cambridge United 2-0 at
Wembley to secure promotion
back to the Football League in
the 2008/09 season
Torquay United
Football Club
Highlighting best practice
This really does resonate with what
makes us so special: we are, at heart,
a family club, and our vocal, tight-knit
community of fans includes a seriously
dedicated number of away supporters.
The distances that sometimes between
200 and 400 people travel for the level
we compete at is genuinely incredible.
Honesty, hospitality and hard
Our staff’s work ethic and honesty, both
on and off the pitch, is unique and very
special. While this might be the basis
of any given business, it is something
at the forefront of our club. With the
return of two major staff members,
general manager Geoff Harrop and club
secretary Tim Herbert, at the beginning
of 2017, the attitude at our club is
demonstrably one that keeps people
coming back. Even through the last four
years, where we have struggled, there
has been an honesty about everybody
involved withTorquay.
Torquay is a town with an extensive
history and a great deal of folklore
concerning its hospitality; this is
something that undoubtedly extends
to the club. When players move down
here, we look after them. This is true
for current and previous managerial
staff too; the transition to a new
town is always difficult, but we want
to make it as smooth and as easy
This is all true for supporters, home
and away. We want everyone to enjoy
their time at Torquay United, and we
don’t want to have to shout from the
rooftops about it. We have a good
hospitality program; offering a positive
experience and an overhauled visual
representation of the club are things
we are always working on.
Overhauling everything
Our club shop has been totally
reorganised. Our kit is now all Nike
branded – something that local kids
recognise and want to wear. Trying to
achieve newfound excellence in every
aspect of the club’s management means
working on these smaller things as well,
and using a top brand for ourstrip.
Alongside this, we have relaunched
our football development programme.
Premier League clubs say this takes
ten years – we want to see it achieved
within two or three. Local supporters
have expressed a desire to see young,
home-grown players on the pitch in
a Torquay strip. This means working
tirelessly with nearby schools to get the
talent and players we want.
Refurbishment has not just been limited
to merchandise and our academy,
however. We have seen recent upgrade
to our hospitality capability and are
preparing to bring the pub next to
our ground back under the club’s
jurisdiction, alongside a complete
rework of all marketing and branding.
Our website has been redeveloped with
a view to improving the communication
process with supporters.
Tim Sills celebrating
the winning goal in the
play-off final against
Cambridge United at
We want
everyone to
enjoy their
time at
Scouts and supporters
Our scouting process is much
stronger than it has been historically.
In order to find good players, you
need to have good scouts; and the
more people who are out there
scouting that the management can
trust, the more intelligence you can
receive. Before long, this process
starts to pay dividends, and you can
discover the players who are going
to be most appropriate to your style.
Behind the scenes, we are investing
further in the training process and
facilities – the grounds, gymnasium
and everything else that comes along
with a professional club, even at
Younger and more suitable players
are just one thing to work on,
however. We want to change as the
demographic of football supporters
is changing nationally, and appeal to
a far younger audience. Our official
supporters club now has members
as young as three and four years old,
and we are making use of stickers,
rucksacks and t-shirts. We want to
create the fan of the future through a
weekly Saturday habit.
Setting our own targets
Though the last five years have been
challenging for the club in a number
of respects, the challenges we want to
focus on are the ones we’re setting for
ourselves. This includes a program to
move from our existing ground to a new
stadium on another site, where we will
develop a capacity not just for football,
but also to accommodate events,
supporting leisure and possibly a hotel.
Our current stadium has a capacity
of 6,200; the new site will start by
supporting 7,500, while also being
expandable in the future for up to
20,000. The club infrastructure will allow
us to operate every day of the week in a
leisure capacity, with the premises being
used, one way or another, every single
day. Physically building an academy and
training ground will further challenge us.
All of this, however, is about moving
towards league results. At the
beginning of the 2020/21 season, or
the following season, at the absolute
latest, we want to see Torquay United
return to the English Football League,
with a fully functional academy and a
new stadium on the horizon.
We want to
appeal to a
The Yellow Army

This article was sponsored by Torquay United Football Club. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister