Steve Chettle said he was ‘relieved and delighted’ following the Football Association’s decision to promote Ilkeston Town into the Midland Football League Premier Division - and says work can now begin in earnest to prepare for the step up.
The FA’s leagues committee opted to promote the Robins to step five following a wide restructuring of the non-league pyramid, with Ilkeston’s second place finish in their first ever season finally earning the reward many felt they deserved.
And for Chettle, it now means he has greater clarity as to what’s needed when it comes to preparing for the new campaign.
He said: “It was a slightly unusual way to get promoted - I’ve done it a couple of times the more standard way but it’s no less than we deserved so we’ll happily take it.
“I’m relieved and delighted given the season we had and considering how things were at the start, so it’s great for everyone at the club and for the fans too who have had to go through so much in recent years.
“I haven’t had the chance to sit down with all of the players yet but anticipate being able to do that in the coming days and hopefully tie up deals to keep those we want to keep.”
As has been the case since the season ended, Chettle has a shortlist of players he wants to sign drawn up, but now he knows the Robins will be playing at a higher level he believes a move to the club will hold extra appeal to the right players.
He said: “Ian Deakin (assistant manager) and I have identified who we want to bring in but I want to sit down with those players, find out about them, ensure they will be here for the right reasons and then hopefully they will want to sign.
“I’d like to get as many on board as I can early on in proceedings but some will come during pre-season as we have currently got five games lined up that will enable us to have a closer look.”
Chettle added that whilst his knowledge of the MFL Premier Division is relatively limited, he plans to do as much homework as he can during the close season.
He said: “Obviously we know about the likes of Long Eaton and Dunkirk given their locality, plus Walsall Wood of course who went up as champions.
“But it’s a strong league and as always it’s about tapping into what knowledge we can and speaking to those who have experience of the league and the teams in it.”
Ilkeston are yet to officially release their pre-season friendly schedule, but a trip to play Basford United has been confirmed by the Nottingham side, and Chettle says he remains keen to arrange an attractive home game for when the New Manor Ground pitch is ready for action at the end of July.