Football League is our aim - Wilson

Eastbourne Boro boss Garry Wilson revealed his aim is to achieve Football League status during a well-attended fans' forum at Priory Lane on Wednesday night.

Supporters were given the chance to quiz management duo Wilson and Nick Greenwood (head coach) and chairman Len Smith.

A wide range of topics were covered from team selection, to ground improvements, club finances (including the struggling supporters' share scheme) and Smith's plans to purchase Priory Lane from the Eastbourne Borough council.

But the clear message from Smith, Wilson and Greenwood, who have amassed more than 65 years' service at Eastbourne Borough between them, is that the ambition and desire to progress the club is as strong as ever.

Wilson said, "We are always looking to move ahead and go higher, that's what this club has always been about. First we must stabilise in this league, but then the challenge is to move up.

"There is no point being involved in football if you don't want to play at the highest level you can.

"The club has been successful because we have made steady progress and we tackle the hurdles at the right time. But the answer is yes, I would like to manage in the Football League and that has to be our aim."

To compete in the Football League will be a huge jump for a club with no immediate plans to go full-time.

But as part-timers Burton Albion and Histon lead the way in the Blue Square Premier and full-time non-league giants Oxford United, Wrexham and tomorrow's visitors York City all struggle, Boro approach the full-time/part-time debate with extreme caution.

Greenwood said, "Nothing has been decided as yet and it is a situation that we are constantly assessing. There are many full time clubs in this league and many are struggling in the current climate. I think you could see the number reduce next year."

Smith added, "Some of the players will not want to go full-time because they have good jobs which they would not want to give up. I think the most likely outcome is that we will have a mix of full-time and part-time players."

Boro's average home gate has been 1,375 this season and the club is operating in the black at a time when many Conference sides battle to stay afloat. As a business the club is valued at 2m and repeated attempts have been made to buy the site from Eastbourne Borough Council to further consolidate their future.

Smith added, "We tried to buy the land when we were negotiating the rent increase. We were turned down but the offer is still on the table. We have no idea how much it would cost. The price would be set by the district valuer."

Plans to improve the facilities at Priory Lane are also in place. A sum of 25,000 will be spent on upgrading the floodlights at the end of March and there are future plans to extend and raise the terracing and extend the south stand.

A supporters' coach will leave Priory Lane at 5pm for the game at Woking on Tuesday night. Contact Les Baker on 735378.