Boss Neil Reynolds believes his Bamber Bridge team have a ‘real chance’ of winning promotion next year.
The Brig manager was handed a major boost this week when it was confirmed that another automatic spot will be on offer to teams in the NPL First Division when the forthcoming season gets under way.
Previously, just the team which finished champions went straight up with the four teams finishing directly below battling it out in the play-offs.
However, due to a restructure of the non-league pyramid, a number of extra automatic spots will be on offer to clubs at step four across the country.
Under the plans – which were ratified this week – an extra division will be created at both step three and four in time for the 2018/19 season. In theory, four teams could win promotion from the First Division North as the team with the best record which finishes third out of all the six divisions making up step four, will be promoted.
Reynolds – who is looking forward to his first full campaign in charge at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium – admits next season is a great opportunity for the club to finally achieve its aim of securing NPL Premier Division football.
“I think it’s great that the there is going to be an extra automatic spot,” said Reynolds, who conducted the club’s first pre-season training session last Thursday night.
“I know from my own playing career how difficult it is to get promoted when only the champions are promoted automatically. I remember when I played for Clitheroe how hard it was to get out of the North West Counties League – we must have finished second about four or five times before we finally went up as champions.
“I think there should be two automatic promotions spots on offer like they have in the Football League.We had all the lads come in on Tuesday night. I gave a presentation reviewing the 2016/17 season, but also what I expect from the season coming up. I have said all along that I want to win the league and the target is to do that, but if we don’t then that extra spot gives us a real chance.”
Meanwhile, Brig step up their preparations for the forthcoming season when they welcome Preston to the Sir Tom Finney Stadium on Friday night.
North End – who are still recovering from the shock of manager Simon Grayson’s defection to Sunderland last Thursday – are expected to field a strong side for the annual friendly.
First-team coach Steve Thompson – father of former Brig player Curtis Thompson – will be in charge of the PNE team.
The following Tuesday, Brig have more Football League opposition in the shape of League Two outfit Morecambe.
“It’s great to play against teams like this,” said Reynolds.