It looks to be a case of ‘full steam ahead’ for a brand new football club in Ilkeston - for the second time in seven years.
With no takeover yet having materialised for the seemingly doomed Ilkeston FC, plans to create a new community-based and fan-owned club in its place are now expected to be pursued with a view to playing competitive football in the 2018/19 season.
And despite Ilkeston FC, formed in 2010 after the demise of Ilkeston Town, not yet having been officially liquidated, supporters group chairman Duncan Payne says preparations for a new club going by the name of Ilkeston United Community Football Club are now in full swing.
He said: “The Ilkeston Football Club Supporters Group has been working tirelessly over the past couple of months in the hope of creating a brand new community football club in the event of Ilkeston FC going into liquidation.
“Should Ilkeston FC fail to be rescued from its current situation, there will be plenty of interest from people looking to start afresh with a new club but we believe that our vision is the best way forward and will prevent the prospect of a third Ilkeston club from disappearing from view in a short space of time.
“The IFCSG is working closely with the local business sector to ensure that we have a sustainable football club that reaches out to the local community.
“It will live within its means but with the prospect of climbing the football ladder steadily over the course of the next few seasons. We would ensure that promotions to higher levels are financially viable.”
Erewash Borough Council, who own the New Manor Ground, will have the final say as to who plays on it, having expressed their desire to keep football as the primary use for the facility.
Payne added: “Obviously it’s their decision depending on what proposals they are faced with but have been putting together a robust business plan that will stand close scrutiny.
“We’re in a situation where we can’t do much at the moment because Ilkeston FC remain in business, but should they be liquidated we will then be keen to have a close look at the club’s accounts, so it’s a waiting game at the moment.”
Ilkeston FC chairman Nigel Harrop has remained unavailable for comment with regard to the future of the club, but with a new season quickly approaching and the Robins having no team, manager, league to play in or pre-season fixtures planned, it seems it may now be too late for the club to be saved, ultimately meaning all creditors are likely to have little chance of recovering the money they are owed.
That will therefore mean the new club can focus its efforts on building strong foundations over the next 12 months.
Payne added: “The prospects of us having a football team for 2017-18 diminish by the day given that we cannot move forward until Ilkeston FC’s fate is sealed. Should that be the case it will give us more time to prepare thoroughly for 2018-19 and the ground will stage some football during the interim period.
“We have been inundated with offers of practical assistance and advice and I have been contacted by several non-league managers and a former England striker who are interested in what we are doing and would like to become a part of it.
“We’re keen to run in a similar style to a club called Lewes who are based in Sussex. There will be a membership system in place where the members are in effect the owners, with it being open to local businesses too either as a company or as individuals within.
“We’d be keen to integrate Ilkeston FC Juniors and Ilkeston Ladies into the club as there would be great potential for membership opportunities that way too.
“We’d look to be a community benefit society with charitable status which might in turn help us save money on various rates to do with the ground as we’ll be looking to provide a service for the community.”
Payne added that although the Central Midlands League have reserved Ilkeston United CFC a place should they deem themselves able to play in the 2017/18 season, he believes that possibility is extremely unlikely at this stage.