Town can’t keep splashing cash

Tyler Forbes is one of Town's rising young stars
Tyler Forbes is one of Town's rising young stars

Chairman Andy Pilley says Fleetwood Town must change the way they go about business as the club adapts to life in League One.

Speaking to The Gazette, the Fleetwood chairman admitted Town had been guilty, in the past, of buying success.

But he made it clear that was no longer a sustainable business model - pointing to the development of home grown talent as a major part of the club’s future.

“I don’t think it’s all about investment now.

“Our business model in the past has been, and I can’t deny, that we’ve gone out and got some of the very best players for the division we’ve found ourselves in.

“We’ve made it our business to kick on and win that league and secure promotion.

“It’s going to be hard to continue with that model because contrary to popular opinion we’re not made from money.

“We’ve got to work smarter and not just throw money at it.”

Town set up a new development squad over the summer with former midfielder Barry Nicholson in charge. And two players from that group, Nick Haughton and Tyler Forbes, have already made their first team debuts.

With director of football Stuart Murdoch also keen on youth development, Pilley is keen to see Town transition from a buying club to a talent production line.

A £4.5m investment in new training facilities will undoubtedly help that, as the chairman was keen to point out.

“We’ve got a fantastic training ground being built and I think we need to switch to developing top quality young players who can complement the experienced players we have,” said Pilley.

“We’ve seen a few examples of that already with players coming into the first team.

“Hopefully it’s just the start.”

Pilley, who celebrates 11 years in charge at Highbury this season, acknowledged Town could never sustain their previous recruitment strategy, despite record average gates this season.

“You need a variety of approaches,” the chairman told The Gazette.

“We’re not going to focus just on youth, we’re not going to just recruit the very best players.

“If we were to do so it would cost us a fortune.

“It’s a small town, we get very healthy gates but we’d never be able to generate the revenue through the gates to do that.

“So it’s a mix of the two, a combination and that’s what we’re well on with doing.”

And while some Fleetwood fans might be keen to see their club push for a spot in The Championship, Pilley’s ambitions for this campaign are more realistic.

The entrepreneur, whose businesses are based at the Highbury stadium knows competing, first season up, with the likes of Sheffield United, Bristol City and Preston North End is a big ask.

He said: “Progress this season will be seeing the club finish in a healthy position in the league and be well placed to push on again next season.

“We want to continue to progress if at all possible but there’s lots of different ways that is happening.”

Town return to League One action next weekend when Sheffield United are the visitors.