Ambitious Ilkeston FC chairman Dave Mantle has said he’s seeking financial support to help him lift the Evo-Stik League Premier Division club to the next level.
In three seasons since launching Ilkeston FC following the liquidation of Ilkeston Town, Mantle has seen them gain promotion and establish themselves at the higher level, while also setting up a thriving Academy.
All but four of the current squad - the average age is just 19 - are Academy graduates and the fourth-placed Robins firmly underlined their potential this week with a 4-0 away win over undefeated league leaders Stamford.
But getting to this point has been a costly exercise and Mantle, the club’s sole director, is now seeking fresh investment to help move forward.
He said: “This shouldn’t set alarm bells ringing for supporters because every penny of the debt shown on our accounts is owed to me personally - and I’m comfortable with that.
“A lot of it stems from one-off costs involved in setting up the new club and taking over the assets of the previous regime, and from things like creating purpose-built classrooms on site for our academy scholars to use.
“We are where I’d hoped we would be in our fourth season and everything is going according to plan. But it has reached the point where we now have to do something positive to pull our income and expenditure more into line.
“I knew what I was letting myself in for and was happy at the outset to cover what it would cost to get us up and running at a reasonable level.
“But it would be very irresponsible to allow any debts to continue building and I won’t let that happen. If needs be we will have to cut our cloth accordingly - but I’d far rather press ahead.”
He added: “We’ve built a fantastic platform at the New Manor Ground. Our Academy scheme is the talk of non-league football. We get calls every day from clubs who want to follow our lead and we’ve had a real influence on football at this level across the country.”
Mantle admitted he has already had conversations with people who have expressed an interest in becoming involved with the club and he’s hopeful that new blood can be introduced at Board level.
He added: “It wouldn’t have been fair to try and enlist new people until we had resolved the legal case involving John Thompson but happily, we are now at a stage where we can move on after reaching an out of court settlement.
“We have a huge amount of untapped potential, surrounded as we are by the cities of Nottingham, Derby and Leicester. Our decision to build from the bottom and base the club on youngsters is proving to be a wise one and with the right sort of investment, I’m convinced we will continue to climb.”
Mantle has hinted that if circumstances are right, he could be prepared to part with some of his shareholding and might even consider his position as chairman. But he insists that he remains as committed as ever to the project he took on four years ago.