New Bury Town chief executive to be club’s ringmaster

DRIVING FORCE: Garry Barker, left, is Bury Town's new development director, while Michelle Banfield-Curran, right, has been appointed as the Blues' chief executive
DRIVING FORCE: Garry Barker, left, is Bury Town's new development director, while Michelle Banfield-Curran, right, has been appointed as the Blues' chief executive
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Michelle Banfield-Curran does not want Bury Town to be seen as a ‘little football club’ any more after being appointed chief executive of the Blues.

The former Abbeycroft Leisure employee — who has two decades of experience in the leisure industry — had been commercial manager at Bury for just three months before her work prompted the club’s board of directors to offer a new role.

Banfield-Curran, who will officially take up her position on January 2, has several targets, but admits her first task will be to play the role of ringmaster to get everyone working together and moving in the same direction.

“At the moment we are running it as a little football club, but there is so much promise and it just needs someone to go in there with no background of what’s gone on and who has experience in the leisure industry,” said Banfield-Curran, who estimates Bury have in the region of 40 volunteers at their disposal. “I’m generally very positive of turning it from a little football club into a football business.”

Along with putting better procedures in place off the field for directors and volunteers, Banfield-Curran plans to review all expenditure from the club, work more closely with the Blues’ fans and supporters’ club and provide support for manager Ben Chenery.

She will also play a key role in talking with St Edmundsbury Borough Council and the Football Association (FA) about redeveloping Ram Meadow and hopes to encourage more community clubs to use their facilities.

There are also plans to put a ‘five-year vision’ in place, with the board set to sign off on that before the end of the year.

And chairman Russell Ward is confident Banfield-Curran can not just earn back what she will be paid, but much more as well to help the club grow.

“The pressure she will be under will be what she has put herself under,” said Ward. “She is confident she will achieve all her targets.”

He added: “Her remit was originally to work on the commercial side, but she’s shown she has even more to offer than just that.

“It felt right we should try to use her to her full strengths rather than just on the commercial side.

“Gradually she was doing more anyway.

“It’s going to take a certain amount of work off me, but we will have procedures in place for everyone to work whereas before we’ve got by on a wing and prayer.”

Banfield-Curran — who will be based at Ram Meadow from 9am until 5pm during the week, as well as turning out for evening events and

on match days — said: “I’m very lucky I have the approval of everyone on the board

and that they believe in me.”

Norwich City’s joint majority shareholder Delia Smith and West Ham United vice-chairman Karren Brady are two of the most famous women in men’s football and, much like that duo in the professional game, Banfield-Curran is not ‘fazed’ about stepping into a what is perceived to be a man’s world.

“I have got senior management experience and have been in the leisure world a long time,” she said.

The Blues announced Ian Cowie and Garry Barker have joined the board as finance director and development director respectively, while Ward has moved to quash rumours Bury will be moving to West Suffolk Athletics Arena.