The re-signing of two key players and a link up with Spanish side Real Mallorca signalled Ilkeston FC’s intentions this week as plans for the future continue.
Player-of-the-year Joe Maguire put pen to paper on a one-year contract extention at the New Manor Ground, as did the versatile Ryan Wilson, both having played vital roles in the Robins’ progress in the last two years.
And after securing a grant of €66,000 through a European Commission initiative to set up an ambitious and forward-thinking partnership with Real Mallorca, manager Kevin Wilson was understandably delighted with the progress being made.
He said: “Joe and Ryan were key signings because, as with all of the players we’ve given new deals to so far, they had offers from other clubs, some at higher levels and for more money, but have opted to stay with us and help shape our future.
“We sign so many young players on contract because they’re investments as much as anything and we want to protect them not only for that reason but also should they get injured, as they can still be paid during that time. We want to look after them.
“I’ve been in for several new players but we’ve not been in the ball park in financial terms. We have a limit on what we are willing to pay players and will not, and do not need to, go over it. We want people here for footballing reasons and have a structure in place.”
The link-up with Real Mallorca follows a successful bid by SR Education, the company who deliver the education portion of the Ilkeston FC academy’s curriculum.
The initiative will see 25 of the club’s academy players visit Spain for two weeks next summer, where they will attend a series of coaching sessions and take part in a comprehensive schedule of social and cultural activities, alongside studying relevant aspects of their BTEC Diploma in Sport.
They will also receive Spanish language lessons in preparation for the visit.
Wilson said: “We took the academy lads to Majorca a couple of years ago and it was really productive and excellent for their development.
“They get to experience a different culture and learn a bit of the language too, and of course the football side of it will be of great benefit given they will play high quality opposition whilst there.”
Ilkeston FC chairman Dave Mantle added: “This is excellent news for us.
“Our bid was one of a small number selected for funding and will provide a fantastic experience for our young players.
“It reflects all of the great work that is being done within the academy by both our education and coaching staff.”
by Mark Duffy