New play-off set-up offers the Lions hope

Phil Rogerson
Phil Rogerson
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former chairman Phil Rogerson believes that the big changes to the National League play-off system will offer a huge incentive to Guiseley – as they strive to make waves in the fifth tier of English football.

Rogerson recently stepped down from his role as chairman, with his successor James Ferguson having already made reference to the club’s potential as being among the “best in the country”.

Steve Parkin

Steve Parkin

While the club’s immediate aim is to further consolidate in their third season at this level, changes to the play-off system in 2017-18 offers tantalising hope further down the line, according to Rogerson.

At the National League’s recent AGM, clubs voted to change the format of the end-of-season play-offs and increase the number of qualifying teams from four to six, with the team who finishes in seventh place now able to compete in the end-of-season lottery.

After two brushes with relegation, that remains some way off for Guiseley, but it provides long-term incentive all the same according to Rogerson.

Rogerson, who has relocated to Cornwall, but who will retain his involvement as a director – while also being chairmen of their Community Foundation – said: “It’s nice to finish on a high, although the plan is to push on and consolidate and avoid the horrendous last day of the season situation which we’ve had over the past few years.

Adam Lockwood

Adam Lockwood

“We have a reasonable budget so hopefully we will not have to go through that again.

“We have pretty much managed to retain the players who we have brought in pretty much, apart from (Jake) Cassidy who has moved, which is a bit of a shame.

“But generally speaking, we look like we are building a decent squad together and it should be a good season.

“Now there are seven places in the play-offs, a play-off place is not beyond the realms of possibility and that could keep the season alive a bit longer and hopefully keep the interest.”

Guiseley certainly represent a club wholly transformed from the days in the late seventies and early eighties when Rogerson first got involved.

But Rogerson still believes Guiseley have further untapped potential as they bid to attract more support from the immediate area, even accounting for the strides which they have made in recent years.

Rogerson, who recently received a National League award for his 37 years’ service to the club, said: “The general steady improvement and the building of the academy has also given me much pleasure and it is nice to say we are the biggest non-league club in Leeds and Bradford. It’s tremendous.

“The whole club has got bigger, but without losing that community feel. But we need to make people more aware of what we have got.

“We have a very high-level club on people’s doorsteps, although gates of 1,000 are not really good enough at this level. Although there is obviously competition from Bradford City with cheap season tickets and Leeds play at a higher level.

“Steve Parkin has come along and made a huge difference to what we can afford to do.

“We have got quite a lot of grants from the improvement funds and with his backing, we have made big strides and hopefully will make more as well.

“Hopefully with James’ marketing experience, we can raise the profile of the club further.”

Rogerson may be away from day-to-day running of the club, but he will still retain involvement through his dual roles.

He said: “I wanted to take a bit of a back seat. But I am still on the board as they can’t take 37 years out of you overnight! I am the chair of the Community Foundation which is looking at the building the academy.

“We have seen young players come through to the Football League such as James Hanson. Then we had Ben Whitfield, who we picked up for the academy. He had a year with us before Bournemouth snapped him up.

“There’s also the likes of Jacob Brown who went to Barnsley and now there’s the likes of Will Wells, who is knocking on the first-team door which is great and we hope to develop many more players.”