Forfar Athletic chairman says club made right choice appointing Gary Bollan

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Forfar Athletic chairman Alastair Donald has reiterated his belief that the appointment of Gary Bollan was the correct decision.

Bollan was selected as Dick Campbell’s successor in December after the Loons board was left with no choice but to bring an end to Campbell’s seven-year tenure with the club.

An abject run of form saw the side plummet from the top of League One to the bottom following just one league win in 14 fixtures after an electric start of three wins in three.

Forfar officials feared that relegation to League Two was a certainty in that vein of form and moved to dismiss Campbell from his post, before bringing Bollan in from Airdrieonians.

Sadly for everybody involved at the club, the new manager was unable to stop the slide towards League Two and the Loons’ relegation was confirmed on Saturday past after a 3-2 loss at Albion Rovers.

The relegation has led to many fans suggesting Dick should have been retained in the manager’s position, but the Station Park chairman said the board had no option but to make the tough call they did.

And Donald added that he firmly believes the current boss is the right man to take the club forward.

He said: “People are saying well how can you go from being nearly in the Championship one season to losing your place in one year. Well, it’s football - it’s what happens. How did Cowdenbeath lose their place in the Championship then now they could potentially be down with us?

“There are 10 teams, one of them is going down. When you go 15, 16 games picking up six points - as we did from September - it’s tough. It isn’t what’s happened on Saturday or the last two, three or even 10 weeks. This is because of what’s happened since the fourth or fifth game of the season.

“When we changed it, we decided as a club that that winrate was going to have us relegated by February. It’s all well and good saying “well it would have turned around” but as Dick used to say to me himself, people say that after the event. He used to say people will always criticise him after the game. He’s right; we had to make a decision before all of this.

“The whole point of bringing someone in was to give them a chance with the January transfer window, and think of the players Gary brought in. They’ve turned out to be pretty decent. Andy Ryan and Steven Craig, I think their goals have kept it going for as long as it has. Gareth Rodger’s done okay and Euan Spark’s done okay, but we’ve just not had the right quality of replacements.

“Look at our defence who got us top of the league after five games, none of them are at our club now or they’re injured. If we had Tam O’Brien and Michael Travis fit in central defence, would we have shipped some of the goals we’ve lost? I don’t think so.

“We just didn’t strengthen properly over the summer. We lost massive players in Dods, Malcolm and Hilson. Tam O’Brien, don’t get me wrong, he’s been outstanding.

“We just have to get up, lick our wounds and build again - we’ll be fine.

“It’s a tough league but the one we’re going into is tough as well. We just have to get on with it.

“It’s going to be tough. Arbroath will be strong, Dick will recruit well and whoever’s left who don’t come up through the play-offs will be strong. I think we need a clearout and to start again, give Gary a blank canvas and see what he comes up with.

“I keep going back to it. If you tell a team they’ll be without Michael Travis and Iain Campbell for half the season, that is a blow to any team - never mind one who can’t bring in any replacements. Our goalkeeper who was Player of the Year decided he wasn’t playing for us anymore, that’s another blow but we’d no loans to replace him.

“Nothing would have pleased me more than to keep Dick as manager, it was what I wanted. We had to make a choice then and I still think it was the right choice.

“You take the good with the bad. There are good days ahead of us at this club, I know that.”