Torquay United chairman Thea Bristow to step down

Thea Bristow sacked Martin Ling in 2013 for a 'lack of enthusiasm'

Torquay United chairman Thea Bristow is to step down at the end of the season.

Bristow, who has been trying to sell the club and has brought in former Oxford United chairman Kelvin Thomas to find a buyer.

She became a member of the board in 2010 after her husband Paul, who helped fund the club after winning the lottery,

"It is best for me and my family that I step down to allow others to take the club forward," she said in a statement.

Torquay's highs and lows under the Bristows
May 2007: Relegated to conference. A new board, including Paul Bristow, assumes controlMay 2008: Lose Conference play-off semi-final to Exeter and are beaten in FA Trophy final by Ebbsfleet
May 2009: Beat Cambridge United in Conference play-off final at WembleyJune 2010: Paul Bristow passes away aged 59. His wife Thea takes over his place on the club's board.
May 2011: Torquay are beaten by Stevenage in League Two play-off finalMay 2012: Torquay are beaten in League Two play-off semi-finals by Cheltenham Town
May 2013: Sacks manager Martin Ling after he spent four months away from the club due to depression. Replaces him with Alan KnillJanuary 2014: Sacks Alan Knill with the club bottom of the Football League
April 2014: Torquay relegated to the ConferenceMarch 2015: Thea Bristow steps down from the club

"As I am sure people will appreciate, the role of chairman can be a stressful one and recently it has had an impact on my health. Therefore, now is the right time to say that I think I have done enough.

"It's been almost five years since Paul passed away and I have basically been majority funding the club since, including helping to build Bristow's Bench, which we will always be proud of. We have enjoyed some great times, including the Wembley appearances, promotions and the FA Cup runs, not to be forgotten."

Funded by the Bristows, Torquay returned to the Football League in 2009 after two years in the Conference, but the club last year.

Brent Pilnick - BBC Sport
"Thea Bristow's departure comes as the club find themselves in one of their lowest-ever league positions. Her family's funding has kept the club afloat for the best part of a decade and supporters will hope that Kelvin Thomas can bring in a new owner who will be able to fund the club to a similar level.

Bristow was responsible for after he

Ling had taken the club to the League Two play-off semi-finals, but under his replacement, Alan Knill, the club struggled and finished bottom of the league.

"I have told the board I will continue to fund the club until the end of the financial year and I will also arrange for my loans to be transferred into shares. Therefore, at that time, I will pass them on debt free," added Bristow, whose family is thought to have invested about £3m in the club.

"Kelvin Thomas has kindly agreed to stay until the end of this period to help the club and me with this transition, which I have agreed to fund personally. His hard work will continue to find the right custodians and help to improve the structure of the club."

Bristow's son Alan will also step down as a director of the club.

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