01:00PM, Friday 28 June 2019
Maidenhead United are likely to go into their new National League campaign looking at survival as their first priority.
However, work is taking place, both on and off the pitch, to ensure the club can take the step up to league football should the opportunity present itself.
A new, more professional, training regime, based out of Bisham Abbey, has attracted seven new players to sign for the club this summer, replacing seven that have flown the nest, while off the field, the club has been working to achieve the A Grade National League rating.
Club chairman Peter Griffin confirmed this has now been granted at the recent AGM and, while more work would need to be completed for the Magpies to play in League 2, he’s confident they’ve got their house in order to do just that, should the opportunity arise.
It may be a fanciful thought, perhaps, but football can be a funny old game sometimes.
A planning application has also been accepted to improve facilities at the ground, with a new 300-seat stand having been granted permission by councillors in April. It will be built in the north-east corner of York Road, by the Cage, while the South Stand, in front of the railway line, will also be expanded, adding another 224 seats to bring the total to 1,073, meeting EFL standards.
To play in the EFL improvements would also have to be made to the York Road floodlights immediately.
“The simple answer to that is, if we are in a position to go up, we can go up,” said Griffin.
“You have things you have to do over the summer before you play your first game but they would be fairly straight-forward.
“You would have things in this planning application you have to do within 12 months.
“The floodlights you’d do straight away; the stands you would have 12 months. And then you have a further series of things which you have three years (to complete).
“Now the three-year stuff is big – you have to double the size of the seats again, the number of seats you have, the capacity, etc.
“We would have work to do immediately. We would have work to do within one year and we would be confident about getting all that done.
“Then the three-year window is harder but [we have] a lot of time to plan for that, but I’m sure we would do something. We’ve costed it out, got detailed architects’ plans, so we know we would be able to do all the things in the short term if we were able to go up on the pitch, which is a big, if obviously a very tough, ask.
“But if we were in that position we would take advantage and go up.”
Griffin added that the club has no plans to start any of these building works but, should they be pleasantly surprised by results on the field, they’d be ready to go.
He added that the club would be revealing a new shirt sponsor – ‘a major sponsor’ – in the coming weeks.
“We obtained the planning permission and people were asking whether we were starting to build what we had permission for and the answer is, no, not at the moment,” added Griffin.
“As we explained, the planning permission we got for a new stand extended into the old stand, new floodlights, etc., would be essential if we were ever in a position to go up to the football league.
“Part of your A grade to play in the National League means you have to do a football league preparedness return and that is what we did and those are the areas we need to work on.
“The reality is we need to do them for planning. I’m not saying we won’t do them but certainly there’s no plan to do them at the moment. But it’s great to have that there in the event we do need it.”
Griffin added: “We’ve got more sponsors on board.
“We have an announcement in the next week or so about a new shirt sponsor – a major sponsor to the club.
“There will be a new kit launch with our new home shirts and away shirts as well, so everything is going well.”
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