Biggest summer ever for AFC Fylde, says chairman

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AFC Fylde chairman David Haythornthwaite believes this summer is the biggest in the club’s history.

The Coasters are moving into their new 6,000-seater stadium Mill Farm and will host Brett Ormerod’s testimonial as a curtain raiser at the new ground on July 31.

The club’s switch to full-time football has already made this a busy summer and Haythornthwaite believes the future is bright for his beloved club.

He said: “There is no doubt this is the biggest few months in the history of this club.

“We built Kellamergh Park a few years ago and it has been a fantastic little ground but it wasn’t fit for purpose. The new stadium certainly is.

“We have done everything the right way here, so if we fail it won’t be through a lack of effort.

“Dave (Challinor, team manager) and I have got on well right from day one.

“That relationship between chairman and manager is the most important one in a football club.

“When that relationship doesn’t work it usually ends in tears.

“We agree on most things and we both want to play a certain way to entertain the supporters.

“The new pitch here is as big as you can possibly get, and that’s how we want to play – wide, expansive, attacking football.”

As for the club going full-time, Haythornthwaite said: “It made sense with a new stadium and every other aspect of the club becoming more professional that we made the next step to full-time football.

“It wasn’t an easy decision because it will inevitably cost us a lot more money and we will lose some players in the process. However, that is the price of progress.

“Not everyone is going to like it but you have to make these types of decisions and I’m sure it will pay off in the long run.”

After missing out in the promotion play-offs in the past two seasons, the chairman believes next season could provide the toughest test yet.

“I honestly think the National League will be an easier league than ours (National North) next season. We have to face Halifax, Darlington, Stockport, the Manchester United lads with all their money at Salford, plus all the other clubs that are throwing a lot of money around this summer.

“There are plenty of other owners, like myself, who have exactly the same ambition of getting out of this division, but it just seems to get harder every year.

“We don’t want to be in that play-off lottery again next season. We want to win it and that’s our aim.

“I want to give Chally the players and the funds to do that and I’m sure going full-time will give us a massive edge.”

Mill Farm will boast an array of amenities, including the newly opened Bradleys Sports Bar, and Haythornthwaite added: “The return I get out of this club is sitting here today and looking around.

“I walk out on that pitch and see what we have built, and that’s almost enough for me. It will be around long after I’m gone and that’s what it’s all about – leaving something for Fylde football fans. That to me is priceless.

“You have to do something with your life and your money, and my particular passion is football.

“However, we know you can’t run a football club like this as a business. The reason why we have built this facility is sustainability.

“The bar, the restaurant, the function room, the 3G pitches ... they are all here to put money straight back into the football club.

“It doesn’t just go into my back pocket. We want this club to be able to stand on its own two feet.

“Watch our gates next season – I think people will be shocked by how much they improve.

“We put 1,200 in the projections but now I think we were being conservative. Last season we averaged just over 500 and that was in a field through a pub carpark!

“Now we have a stadium that our fans can be proud of.”