Ilkeston FC have formed an exciting new partnership with a top club in Bermuda that will see a close working relationship developing in the months ahead.
The starting point was last month‘s signing of Bermuda international striker Antwan Russell, who scored his first goal for the Robins in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with league leaders North Ferriby United.
And now, following a meeting between Ilkeston FC chairman Dave Mantle and Paul Scope, the co-owner of Bermuda Hogges, plans are being made to expand the relationship.
Mantle said: “We’re really excited about this development and where it could lead in the future.
“Potentially we can see tremendous benefits for both parties - and the goal that Antwan scored on Saturday is just the start.
“A key thing to realise is that they are football crazy in Bermuda. When word got out that we were talking about the possibility of forming a partnership, it was seen as a really big story on the island.
“Paul Scope and his colleagues are extremely keen to make this work. He has already been over to firm up our arrangement and Kyle Lightbourne, who is also a co-owner of Hogges and is currently coaching at Walsall, was at our game against Buxton last week.”
The partnership between the two clubs is based around two main ‘strands’: to offer the opportunity for senior players to add to their experience - as with Russell - and also to provide some of their best young players with football scholarships in this country.
Bermuda Hogges play in the United States Premier Development League, the fourth tier of the American pyramid, and their aim is to develop the standard of football on the island through regular international competition.
Mantle added: “As with Antwan Russell, the feeling is that spending time with Ilkeston FC can only help their senior players to develop and from our point of view, having him around has certainly raised interest levels among the fans.”