New era dawns for ambitious Magpies

Halifax Town v Choley National Conference North Play-off Final at the MSI stadium Halifax.  Towns Scott Garner challenges Chorley's Adam Blakeman. Picture Tony Johnson.
Halifax Town v Choley National Conference North Play-off Final at the MSI stadium Halifax. Towns Scott Garner challenges Chorley's Adam Blakeman. Picture Tony Johnson.

A new era of success on the pitch and improvements off it has been ushered in at Chorley FC.

Following hard on the heels of the club’s journey to the play-off finals, new owners have taken the reins at the Magpies.

Ownership of the club has been taken on by chairman Ken Wright and his fellow board member Graham Watkinson.

Wright – who enjoyed two spells as manager of the Magpies before becoming chairman in the early part of this century – revealed that the announcement signalled the end of Preston North End owner Trevor Hemmings’ interest in the club.

Hemmings rescued the Magpies from extinction in the early 1990s.

Wright said: “It is a new era for the club.

“We would like to thank Trevor Hemmings for making sure that the club could carry on effectively at that time.

“I have seen the bad times and the good times, but this is a massive opportunity to move the club forward.”

The take-over comes just as the Magpies reached the National League North play-off final against Halifax Town on Saturday May 13.

Although the team lost 2-1 after extra-time, the game marked a significant milestone in the life of the club.

Almost 2,000 fans made the journey to support their beloved Magpies.

Dave Tindall, of the Chorley Supporters’ Trust, said of the game: “Whilst we are disappointed with the result both the club and the Chorley FC Supporters’ Trust will dust ourselves down and are already planning for next season.

“To reach the play-off final is a superb achievement for Chorley FC.

“We hope to welcome those new fans down to Victory Park next season to cheer on the team to go one step further and achieve our goal of promotion.

“The change in landlords at Victory Park to Chorley Council offers the football club a great opportunity to secure our long term future .

The Trust is committed to working with all parties to help achieve that goal.”

Alongside the news that Wright and Watkinson had takeover the club, it was also revealed that Chorley Council had

taken ownership of the club’s ground – Victory Park.

One of the first tasks for Wright and Watkinson will be to negotiate with the new landlords over the best way forward to secure the long-term future of the club.

Although the announcement of a General Election has stalled discussions between the two parties, Wright revealed he is eager to negotiate a new long-term lease on the ground.

Mr Wright said: “We have a lot of plans to improve the facilities and improve the imcome streams and generally speaking, support the management teams.

“The reality is however, that we are in an aged stadium that desperately needs updating.

“That’s why it is important to secure a long term lease with our landlords, it’s a fine stadium but it’s an old one and it needs money spent on it.”

Chorley Council recently took on ownership of the football grounds as part of a wider land swap deal with Northern Trust.

On becoming owners the authority issued a short term licence to the club to ensure that it could meet the criteria to compete in the next season.

Mark Lester, director at Chorley Council, said: “We’re in discussions with the football club over the lease of the ground and we’ll continue to work with the directors at Chorley FC to provide a suitable arrangement that works in the best interests of everyone.”

Josh Vosper, who was appointed as commercial manager to the club just last week, said: “Destiny is now in our hands.

“We are excited about the new era and are on the road to push forward together.”