PHIL ROGERSON remains confident that Guiseley will win their big battle off the pitch – and receive their cherished A grade ground status to enable them to remain in the National League next season.
Officials will visit Nethermoor tomorrow to inspect the ground following a raft of improvements, with the club having been pitted into a race against the clock to increase the ground capacity to 4,000 in line with league requirements.
It has been not been straightforward for the Lions, with improvement work put on temporary hold in late winter due to redevelopment issues with Leeds City Council – who posted a ‘stop notice’ at the ground amid concerns about protected trees.
The issues were thankfully resolved with club officials having been working overtime to implement the changes to enable Guiseley to fulfil membership criteria for the division by attaining an A grade status – with an estimated £250,000 spent on ground redevelopment this season.
Chairman Rogerson – conscious that the club are also entrenched in an on-pitch survival fight to secure another season of National League football by staying out of the relegation zone – said: “It is all very tight, but it is all coming together and I think we might just about get away with it.
“It has been a real project management exercise, but I think we will get there.
“We have been improving toilets, turnstiles, crush barriers and the overall capacity, which are the fundamentals.
“Because of all sorts of constraints, we couldn’t actually build the grand scheme that we started with and have had to make do with what terracing we can get and it won’t be covered.
“But we stripped out portakabins and groundsmen’s huts and other stuff to free up more space to increase the ground (capacity).
“We have had loads of volunteers down and supporters to help with painting and weeding and stuff and there’s been trucks and people welding.
“To do what we have done will already be around a £250,000 project and while it is probably a tenth of the cost of what the actual final project was going to be, it is not inconsiderable and the money has to be found.
“But we have generous backers who have managed to find the money for the improvements and for us to take things forward.
“We now need just a few more points to make sure things aren’t wasted.”
On the pitch, Guiseley are desperately scrapping for their lives and Rogerson is hoping that more football fans in the local area rally around to the cause and give them a crowd boost in the final month of the campaign – after admitting the Lions’ average home attendance figure of around 830 this season has been a bit of a disappointment.
He added: “The big problem for me is that the crowds (numbers) have disappointed.
“Our average is around 830 and there’s Wrexham and Cheltenham to come and we will be pushing 900 by the end of the season.
“They are not bad and have gone up by two or three hundred, but it does take a long time for some people to get their head around the fact that we are at the same level as Grimsby, Tranmere and even Halifax to a degree.
“We wanted another three hundred of top of what we currently have to make it more sustainable as we were hoping for 1,100 to 1,200 as an average. But you just don’t know, do you?
“You just hoped that the fashion for localism would mean that more people would want to come and be entertained locally at a reasonable cost without having to travel into Leeds.
“This is a big catchment area and that is a marketing challenge for us next season.”