Chester FC chief executive Mark Maguire has outlined a vision for the future for the Blues and how they will make the transition from part-time to full-time.
Competing in the National League has become increasingly difficult year-on-year for part-time clubs such as Chester, with the bulk of the division now made up of full-time, professional sides all looking to make the step up to the Football League.
The Blues have been part-time since their reformation from the ashes of Chester City FC back in 2010, training three days a week and employing their players on 44-week contracts.
With the club not able to meet the financial demands that professional football brings, the club have had to look at a long-term strategy to achieve full-time status, something that is key to their ultimate goal of achieving Football League status.
And Maguire, hired as CEO of the Blues in June, has set laid out what needs to happen in order to achieve that goal, insisting there is no quick route.
“I think it would be reckless of me to try and put timescales on things but what I would prefer to do is take a practical, hard look at it,” said Maguire, who arrived at the club having held similar positions with both Hull City and Stockport County.
“At the moment we have our players on 44-week contracts and the first thing we have to try and achieve is to get them on 52-week contracts. I have to fund that through commercial activities. That has to be the first thing because we can then engage people on extended contracts.
“Stage two is to get them in for four days a week training and then five days a week training, and then we are full time. It is about me identifying the resources that are required to do that. I have already spoken to the gaffer [Jon McCarthy] about it and that is what we agree should be the priority.”
Maguire highlighted the need to properly invest any extra revenue wisely into the club’s infrastructure as opposed to simply adding it to the playing budget. And with Championship clubs currently looking at teenage defender Sam Hughes, it is something that is high on the agenda.
“At stages in the future when we generate some extra income, whether that be from a run in a FA Trophy or FA Cup, or if a player was to leave for a transfer fee, then it is about us apportioning that extra revenue that we don’t budget for into those areas,” said Maguire, who revealed that the club were £3,000 behind budget despite a succession of low home crowds this season.
“How do we use it sensibly? We’d rather be doing that then throwing it at the playing squad over a two or three-year period in the hope it makes a difference.
“I have to make sure I succeed on the commercial side and then, over the next year or so, we will try and get to the 52 weeks then the four days, then the five days. That is when we become a full time club and we give ourselves a chance of making it to the next level.”