Ilkeston FC are poised to take a significant step closer to discovering what the future holds for them this month when members of the FA’s Leagues Committee visit the New Manor Ground.
Monday, March 21 has been confirmed as the date for a deputation to view facilities at the ground and assess the progress made by the newly-formed club since SR Education took ownership in November.
“It will be a massive day for us,” admitted chairman Dave Mantle. “We’re desperate to discover what level of the football pyramid we will be competing at next season, and it’s crucial that we make the right impression.
“We actually don’t expect to get any closer to establishing that when the visit takes place but it’s a great opportunity to show that Ilkeston FC is in a very healthy condition and that we fully intend to make an impact next season - regardless of the level at which we are playing.
“We have a tremendous amount going for us and it won’t be difficult to point to the ‘positives’. Our Academy set-up is now as good as you will find at any non-league club and Kevin Wilson keeps telling me that the stadium is outstanding for a non-league set-up.
“What we have to do is convince the FA’s representatives that we have a sound and realistic business plan, and a financial structure that will not allow this club to get back into the sad situation it was in before.”
Mantle readily accepts that it’s inevitable that Ilkeston FC will be punished for Ilkeston Town going into liquidation, but he’s hoping that the FA will be lenient.
Added the chairman: “I understand that they are at liberty to relegate us by up to five levels within the pyramid but we hope the punishment will be nothing like as severe as that.
“At the end of the day, it is out of our hands. All we can do is state our case as impressively as possible and wait to discover our fate.”
The indications are that Ilkeston FC won’t know exactly what league they will be playing in for 2011-12 until all promotion and relegation issues have been settled at the end of May, but Mantle is hopeful that they will discover their pyramid level before then.
He added: “The uncertainty is making it extremely difficult to prepare properly for the new season. The level we are playing at will influence the value of our commercial packages and Kevin Wilson needs to know that the players he signs will be capable of doing the job at the standard we are at.
“One way or another, we will sort things out and come the big day in August, when league football finally returns to the New Manor Ground, we will be ready.”
l The Ilkeston FC Academy team produced an impressive display to overcome Bromsgrove Rovers 4-0 in the Central Conference Cup at the New Manor Ground on Monday night.
Ricky Aeitan, Troy Carty and a brace from Josh Onions did the damage.
The Robins will face Football CV Academy in a league fixture at the New Manor Ground tonight (Thursday) with a 7.45pm kick-off.