Gulls chairman: 'Defeat will not halt the Yellow Army'

Chairman Clarke Osborne, during the pre-season The Fans meet Torquay United at Plainmoor, Torquay,

Chairman Clarke Osborne is looking to next season. - Credit: Sean Hernon/PPAUK

Chairman Clarke Osborne has issued a rallying call in the wake of Torquay United's National League play-off final defeat and confirmed his own continued backing for the Plainmoor club.

Osborne described the incident-packed penalty shoot-out loss to Hartlepool United - 5-4 after a 1-1 extra-time draw - as 'one step on the journey that we have delayed until next season'.

The Gulls' Avon-based owner, who rarely attends matches but was at Ashton Gate, described the outcome as 'a cruel way to end a season of such effort and determination'.

In a reference to the two Kyle Cameron goals that were disallowed, Osborne also said: "I am sorry that everyone suffered from the refereeing decisions that were, in hindsight, questionable."

He sent messages of thanks to manager Gary Johnson, his players and all the club's staff, as well as United's fans, particularly the 3,100 who got tickets for the final and 'filled Ashton Gate with the noise of a capacity crowd'.

He stated: "Defeat is just a moment.  It will not halt the Yellow Army.  It is one step on the journey that we have delayed until next season.

"A season when we will see the Yellow Army return to their home and provide the 'extra man'. A season where we will all give our best, work hard with determination to take that next step to Division Two."

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Johnson would not have agreed his new contract, signed just before the play-off semi-final victory over Notts County, if he had not been given assurances of continued financial support from above.

Osborne has pumped more than £3 million into the club since he took over in December 2016, with the past Covid-affected 18 months being particularly expensive.

He is one of many businessmen who are investing in Torbay because they are convinced of the area's renewed potential, and his backing remains part of an oft-stated wider plan eventually to move United to a new stadium complex.

He would almost certainly have returned to that agenda if United had been promoted back to the EFL at the weekend.