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With Mark Dover

Interview: Daggers managing director Steve Thompson on promotion chances

The club finished last season 18th in the National League.

Dagenham and Redbridge managing director Steve Thompson says he is “hopefully optimistic” about the club’s chances of challenging for a play-off place in the National League next season.

Daggers finished 18th in the table last year, in a campaign which started under the cloud of financial issues.

They took just one point from their first seven games, but saw a remarkable turn around in fortune to comfortably survive after being taken over by Trinity Sports Holdings, a company owned by Peter B. Fruend.

Mr Thompson told the Time 107.5 Sport Show: “Last season, my aim was to get us on a stable footing and to make certain we had a club at the end of the season and hopefully a club in the National League and we achieved all of those things.

“The next level is to put a team together that can compete for promotion in the National League.

“I would hope that, with the resources that we’re putting together, that we should be in a position to be at least in the play-offs or there abouts. I would hope that we’ve got a top eight side.”

Only the first-placed side in the division is promoted automatically. Those who finish between second and seventh then take part in play-offs to determine the second team to go up.

Thompson says the long-term plan is to get promoted but he understands the need to be financially sustainable in the way they try and achieve it.

“We’re going to be spending more money next season than we did last year,” he said. “We’re going to be spending more money than the club generates itself so it’s going to be financed by Trinity Sports Holdings.”

Some of that money will go towards off-the-pitch infrastructure, including gym and medical equipment.

Work is also being carried out to the Victoria Road stadium, including a new club shop.

Thompson added: “All of these things have got a cost and the team is the biggest cost. We’re a football club and that’s where the most money has got to be spent.

“But there have been teams in the past that have thrown several million pounds at trying to get promoted … there’s a lot of teams spending a lot of money.

“If it (Dagenham getting promoted) doesn’t happen this year, we can have a go again next year, we can have a go again the following year. 

“It’s not going to be throwing everything at it in year one. We’re just going to gradually improve the club, improve the infrastructure, improve the team so that we will get there.”

When asked what boss Peter Taylor had done last season to suggest he was the right man to lead the Daggers forward, Thompson highlighted his player recruitment.

Despite only joining Dagenham in November, striker Conor Wilkinson was the side’s top scorer with 12 league goals.

“Peter Taylor identified (Angelo) Balanta, identified Kenny Clark. Now lots of people will say that’s not particularly difficult to do because they were two very, very good players.

“But he also identified Conor Wilkinson, and Conor Wilkinson was out of favour with everybody.

“Peter had the trust in the player, the player had the trust in Peter and it’s paid off dividends.”

But does Thompson get involved in the decision-making when signing players?

“I don’t get involved with player recruitment. I always say that the day that I get anywhere involved, shoot me.

“And there’ll be a queue of people to do that, I’m sure!”

Hear the full interview below.

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