Tony Durkin has outlined a three-point plan to see his beloved Chester FC back in the Football League.
The Blues chairman accepts it will take time but he told the Chronicle he was confident the club was heading in the right direction and revealed the steps being taken to build up the fan-owned club
- A partnership with West Cheshire College that will allow the club to turn full time.
- Development of a training ground and football pitches on Bumpers Lane in partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC).
- A community share scheme to fund developments and improve facilities.
“These are not dreams, these are almost tangible and I’m feeling very positive,” said Durkin.
“Our priority is to survive this season and then in three to five years’ time we will be in a very strong position.”
Durkin, appointed chairman in December 2012, has taken inspiration from the model clubs such as Southampton employ, stressing the need for the club to develop its own players.
“Our business plan will be based around full-time football,” he said.
“We are getting closer to the link up with West Cheshire College and if we can get that to work then I believe we can go full-time.
“We will have a backbone of senior professionals with young players who haven’t quite made the grade at top clubs and our own youth players.”
A key part of his plan is developing a community football facility on land off Bumpers Lane with as many as eight pitches.
Positive talks have taken place with CWaC and director Ben Hughes will lead the community share scheme to fund development of the site, which would bring in additional revenue and provide the city with a much-needed sporting facility.
“We will be asking the fans and the wider public to help us build a fund that will allow our club to grow and prosper,” said Durkin, who this week confirmed he would be taking a short break from the club to undergo medical treatment.
“It would be a wonderful facility and the location is perfect.
“We would build it in phases and we are optimistic it will happen.
“Since becoming chairman, I have got to understand the business and I’m now able to say what we can to improve it.”
Durkin openly admits the club was in a difficult financial situation when he joined the board but believes the worst has now passed, crediting financial controller Lawrence Kirby for his work.
“Our vice chairman Steve Ashton describes it as the perfect storm but we have come through the storm,” said Durkin, who lives in Mickle Trafford.
“We’re still facing legacy challenges but the position is much better and I’m very positive about the future.
“We have worked hard and we believe we can now have a successful and sustainable club.
“We have got a great board, which we have strengthened with new skills, and we are all pulling together and working hard.
“We’re all focused on turning the club around and building on what we have now.
“It’s not about what’s here now, it’s about what will be here in the future.
“Our message to the people of Chester is get behind our club and help us push it forward because there are exciting times ahead.”