VIDEO: Chorley FC chairman Ken Wright says the aspirations of the board match those of the players and coaching staff as Magpies eye National League North title
Chorley chairman Ken Wright says the aspirations of the board match those of the players and coaching staff as the Magpies bid to end a near 30-year absence from non-league football's top level.
The Magpies were relegated from the top tier in 1990 and have not returned since but manager Jamie Vermiglio has guided the club to the top of National League North.If the Magpies can hold off Stockport County and Spennymoor Town to clinch the title, Wright admits there will be more financial strain but says plans are being put in place to deal with the challenges of promotion.And Wright, who has been chairman since 2003 and became owner with Graham Watkinson in the summer of 2017, says that in all the time he has been involved as a player, manager and chairman/owner the club has always kept its head just above water.But he says the club is now looking for extra investment.
When asked at a fans’ forum if the ambitions off-field match those on it, Wright said: “Certainly.“My philosophy in football, as long as I have been in it, is that you are in it to win it.“We (myself and Jamie) have had several conversations about it. It will present a lot of problems for us – the travel aspect, the overnight stays and the income that needs to be generated to cope with this.“Obviously as a board we have it to deal with and we are getting ready for that. We know what to expect.“I have not got a problem with the playing staff we have. I think that if we are good enough to be top of the league and get promoted, the squad of players we have is good enough to compete in that league.“I’m not suggesting that they are good enough to win that league but we have a decent squad of players.“We have played some excellent football this season, we pass the ball well and have scored a lot of goals.“As a manager you have got to try to improve on what you have got. That is his job and ours as a board is to support him as strongly as we possibly can.”Speaking about the plans for a possible promotion, he said: “The plan is to bring in investment. “We are already speaking to our legal people about shares and the sale of shares. Recently we came to an agreement with our supporters’ trust, which has helped us through a sticky period.“If I am being totally honest, as long as I have had an involvement in the football club that (signals keeping head just above water) has been the position.“It is a massive challenge and one we need to address. I have not got all the answers “All I know is that on the playing side we are good enough to go up and be capable in the next league.“The challenge is to be supportive as we always have been of the manager.”For Vermiglio, the club is over-performing financially, with his side in the bottom half of the table when it comes to playing budgets.But he stressed that does not mean they are exceeding expectations as a team as his side expect to win the league.He said: “On the playing budget side, we are certainly punching above where we should be financially and resource-wise.“We are not punching above where we want to be or where our expectations are. We expect to be at the top of the league.“We expect to be winning the league and competing. That is where we are at now, regardless of whether our budget is £10 a week or £100 a week."It does not really matter. It is about the players we recruit and the players here on the pitch giving their all for the football club.”“It is about getting the right people involved. “It is about going out, running your heart out and playing for the football club.“It is not about the money but we are certainly not in the top half when it comes to the playing budget, I can tell you that.“We are a club that is moving forward. There are a lot of things right but a lot of things that are not right. That is probably because we have had volunteers running the club for the last however many years.“At this moment in time we are growing. It is no fault of anyone that we are coming to a point where are we going to push on?“Or are we going to stay where we were? To push on we need to keep growing, which is why we have other people on the board. We welcome feedback.”Club adviser Andrew Davies believes the club can be sustainable in the higher division and says the supporters' trust have joined the board to help support Wright and Watkinson after the exits of chief executive Dave Riche and directors Roy Miller, Michael Finnigan, and Jeremy Lee in the summer.He said: “The costs and income are fairly closely matched. I think we can sustain a business in the next division.“One of the reasons why the supporters trust is involved is because the club has been carried by Ken and Graham for too long, so we needed a few more people with some business acumen involved to try to bring some investment and ideas to the business and help what is going on on the pitch.”Accountant David Tindall joined the board along with Chris Blackburn to represent the supporters' trust.Tindall says the club has a dual target: "The aims are: number one promotion, number two stabilisation.“There was always a long-term aim around fan engagement and fan involvement. Ken and the guys talked to us about getting two seats on the board and we believed we could help.“The overall vision is for Chorley FC to be sustainable at the highest level it can be.“For us it is around that stability, having that financial plan. As a board we are looking at all those funding options and opportunities, so we can give Jamie the best chance to succeed on the pitch."We recognise there is a desire for people to know more information. “Those on Twitter or Facebook can ‘ask the board’. We got quite a few questions and you would have seen answers from Ken and Graham on there.“We will be as open as we can be and share what we can. Some things we can't but we want people on board and we want people to help. Let's go on this journey together.”The club has gained a number of new sponsorship deals and commercial manager Josh Vosper says they are looking to build links and relationships with other companies, while building on existing ones.He said: “It is a case of making them (sponsors) feel loved, nourishing what we have got with local businesses and tapping into other people who might believe in what we are trying to do and grow the Magpie family “It is no secret we have not got a money man. We have not got anyone who is bankrolling us.“What we have got is hard work, grit, determination, endeavour, spirit and everything that epitomises what Chorley FC is about. Hopefully that will stand us in good stead for next year.”