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Stowmarket Town manager already planning for next season following FA Vase withdrawal

Stowmarket Town manager Paul Musgrove has admitted to having mixed emotions after the club’s board took the decision to withdraw from this season’s Buildbase FA Vase.

Following the recent curtailment of a second straight league campaign due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Vase – along with the Suffolk Premier Cup – remained their only active competitions in 2020/21.

After beating lower-league Norwich CBS in December, the Old Gold & Blacks had made it through to the last 32, in which they were due to host Surrey-based Cobham when the tournament restarted next month.

Stowmarket Town manager Paul Musgrove. Picture: Mecha Morton
Stowmarket Town manager Paul Musgrove. Picture: Mecha Morton

However, with the likelihood of ties being played behind closed doors, Stow have opted to pull out on financial grounds.

On the one hand Musgrove would have relished the challenge of trying to get his side to Wembley, but he is also fully understanding of the club’s viewpoint.

“With my manager head on you want to win everything,” he said. “That will always be our ethos but you’ve got to look at the bigger picture.

“Everyone has been impacted by the pandemic and it’s important that we don’t put the club’s longevity at risk.

“I know a lot of people think Stowmarket have an infinite amount of money, but you’ve got to make sure whatever funds you have, you use it wisely to make sure the club is safe.”

News of Stowmarket’s decision to pull out of this season’s FA Vase was swiftly followed by fans’ favourite full-back Seb Dunbar revealing that he was to leave the club in search of higher-league football.

Dunbar joined from Leiston in 2019 and was never on the losing side in a league game during his two years at Greens Meadow.

Musgrove said: “Seb had a two-year deal with an option for one more and after some good dialogue we have come to this decision.

“He wants to play at a higher level and I cannot stand in his way of doing that.

“He’s a good friend and if the option ever came around for him to come back – and it was right for all parties – that would be great.”

In terms of the rest of the squad, Musgrove does not expect Dunbar’s exit to spark a series of departures.

While the players are frustrated at being denied a shot at promotion for two seasons running, the desire to achieve that goal continues to burn brightly.

“I’m very, very confident we’ll keep the majority of the players,” said Musgrove.

“We’ve had open conversations with the lads. I’ve been honest with them and I can see they’ve got that commitment to play for Stowmarket Town and me.

“Any player at any level is going to be frustrated with the last two years and we are no different.

“But we will try to use that in the right way next season.”

Musgrove also confirmed his side will not be taking part in plans to restart the 2020/21 Suffolk Premier Cup.

“As a club we’ve drawn a line under this season and we’ll be back in the summer,” he added.

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