MARTIN Gadsby says Uttoxeter Town must grasp the opportunity to climb up the non-league pyramid after crucial upgrades at Oldfields were given the go-ahead by East Staffordshire Borough Council.
Town have been given permission to erect six floodlights, two 100-seater stands, hard standing of around 300m around the pitch area, plus an extension to the playing surface.
“This will allow us to achieve grade G and play football at level six of the non-league pyramid, with only minor adjustments also required for level five – hopefully for some point in the future,” said Town skipper Gadsby, who has been a major driver behind the ambitious project.
“Personally it is the first time I have involved myself in a project of this nature – and to have achieved what we have so far is unbelievable.
“But we wouldn’t be here without the support of Oldfields, Andy Startin our architect and the forward thinking of the council.
“Now we have to take this opportunity and make sure in the next two months – both on and off the pitch – we seize it.”
Town currently enjoy a seven-point gap at the top of Staffordshire Senior League’s top division and are well placed to secure promotion into the North West Counties League.
Gadsby says the hard work is far from over, and not just on the playing side.
“In order to achieve our aims we do have to meet certain criteria prior to March 31, which means that in two months we need to erect one of the stands and lay the hard standing,” said the Town skipper.
“This obviously means there is an even greater amount of work to be done in the short term but we are confident we have the support to help us achieve this.”
The football club are now appealing for volunteers and financial aid to help make the plans a reality.
Gadsby said: “Obviously anyone who thinks they can help us in our aims would be welcomed aboard, because at present the mass workload is shared between too few people but I’m confident as we progress the interest will rise.
“Obviously the financial side of the development is also a huge factor and we are exploring a number of avenues that can help us raise the required sums.
“We will be looking to utilise a variety of funding streams including our own fundraising events, but again any help would be welcomed.”
Gadsby says the latest developments are the reward for meticulous preparation and hard work – which began even before Town switched to Saturday football from the Burton and District Sunday Football League.
But the Town captain says the benefits of improved facilities at Oldfields will be felt beyond Uttoxeter Town Football Club.
“Obviously we are delighted that the plans have been passed by East Staffs Borough Council, and we are proud that they recognise the positive influence a buoyant and progressive football team can have on the local community,” said Gadsby.
“We have undertaken an enormous amount of planning and preparation to ensure that what we submitted to the Council pre-empted a lot of the objections that we were expecting.
“For instance, we spent time and money with lighting specialists to ensure that the floodlights proposed were the least intrusive for the neighbours.
“We had an open meeting with residents to try and work with them to ensure that we took their opinions on board.
“I think that has all worked in our favour as we appreciate the sensitivity of any development.”