Race against time to make the grade and get ground in order

GUISELEY may still be basking in the glow of a history-making first promotion to the Conference Premier – but the clock is already ticking regarding them staying there.

IN NEED OF AN UPGRADE: Guiseleys Nethermoor ground has until March 31 next year to come up to standard. Picture: Tony Johnson.

The Lions were afforded the sweetest moment in their 106-year history when they went up to the non-league’s top tier for the first time amid delirious scenes at Chorley on Saturday.

Now the hard work really does begin on and off the pitch, with the pressure on, according to chairman Phil Rogerson, who says that parts of Nethermoor are “embarrassing” and in need of a major revamp.

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He has acknowledged that the club face a major race against time to make a whole raft of improvements to ensure Nethermoor, whose capacity is 3,000, can stage Conference football beyond 2015-16.

Nethermoor has a B-grade to stage Conference North football and following their promotion, they have been accepted into the Conference Premier.

But by March 31, 2016, Guiseley must fulfil membership criteria for the Conference Premier and achieve A-grade status, when their capacity is likely to have to reach 4,000.

To attain that, Guiseley have a mountain of work to do, with their plans hinging on receiving planning permission from Leeds City Council.

Last October, the club submitted an application for a new two-storey clubhouse/community building with seats, new changing rooms and three new covered terraces and a new turnstile and toilets.

All are vital to drag Nethermoor into the 21st Century, according to Rogerson, with he and the club desperate for the green light to kick-start their redevelopment.

He said: “We have got a lot to do in trying to get the ground in order and we are up against a March deadline to get the improvements made, so that we stay there. The pressure is on, in all sorts of directions.

“It is not just the community building plans; we need to get the ground improvements right.

“The portakabins are leaking badly and we need to replace them and need to be seen as the semi-professional club we are.

“We have a few portakabins and share a cricket club. The concept of having Grimsby or Bristol Rovers and Tranmere here is quite embarrassing.

“There are areas of the ground that have not changed since the Yorkshire League days. They can be addressed if we have planning permission for everything and that is part of our master plan.

“We would have to get an A-grade by March 31. That is less than a year away and we haven’t got planning permission yet.

“So it’s not going to be easy and we are going to have to get new toilets in, increase the capacity and get another turnstile in as a minimum if we want to have a ground that the city, district and the county can be proud of.

“People won’t come and watch if they just stand in the rain...

“There are grants available if we get planning permission.

“But you can’t apply for grants until you have that permission.

“We believe we have backers in terms of current directors who will make a sizeable contribution to it and what we want to do is also make the club sustainable.

“The concept of using a ground like ours for just 25 days a year is just ridiculous.

“It has got to be used by the community also for community activities.

“We really want to do these things and it is not just a ploy to gain planning permission.

“I am hoping we can get a panel decision in June or July,” he added.