National League North outfit Harrogate Town to turn professional next year

Harrogate Town will turn professional from the start of the 2017/2018 campaign, it has been announced.

Harrogate Town's Joe Leesley in action against Stockport County on the 3G at the CNG Stadium on December 28
Harrogate Town's Joe Leesley in action against Stockport County on the 3G at the CNG Stadium on December 28

Town narrowly missed out on promotion from the National League North after losing in the play-off last season and currently find themselves tenth in the division, nine points shy of a play-off berth.

Promotion to the National League has been a long-held ambition for the part-time outfit and the club's management believe the decision will help the club finally realise its ambitions .

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Boss Simon Weaver, whose dad Irving owns the club, said turning full-time will give his side the best opportunity of progressing, regardless of what division they find themselves in next season.

“We are moving into a new era for the club and we strongly believe that now is the right moment to announce our intention to go full-time,” Weaver said.

“We have spoken about if for a while, but now we have the infrastructure in place to make this step up.

“There is already a professional mindset here, and I want every player to also have that mentality of being a full-time footballer."

Harrogate have moved towards professional status over the last three years.

Chairman Irving Weaver has led an improvement to the club's Wetherby Road ground where two new stands have been erected.

Town also replaced their grass pitch with an artificial 3G in a £500,000 investment in the summer .

Weaver added: “As a club we have been preparing for this transition for a while, and as such it is important for us to be honest and open with everyone involved as early as we possibly can. Weaver is clearly excited about the prospect of the club going professional and also confirmed that his playing staff share his enthusiasm.

“Making our intentions known now gives our players, staff and supporters the best possible opportunity to adapt and prepare for the exciting change that is ahead of us,” he added.

“All the players have reacted positively to the news, and we are confident that each and every member of the squad will remain 100 per cent committed to the cause for the duration of this season.

"We’re a close-knit, ambitious group right across the club and this further signals our intent to do things the right way.

“Ultimately, there are a number of teams at this level that are already full-time, professional clubs, and you can clearly see the benefit of working with players on a daily basis.

“For me, you can’t underestimate how much of a massive leap in the right direction this is for our football club.”