Pilley: I want to be creating history
He was once told Fleetwood would never make it to the Conference North, but Town chairman Andy Pilley continues to have the last laugh with his club third in the League One table and pushing for a historic promotion to the second tier of English football.
Town’s sensational rise from non-league has seen them gain six promotions in 12 seasons without any relegations, and although he was coy over whether it will happen again this season, Pilley is determined to keep writing more chapters in the history books, with Fleetwood unbeaten in 17 league games.
But the entrepreneur is keeping his business hat on ahead of two crunch fixtures against old manager Graham Alexander’s second-placed Scunthorpe and fourth-placed Bolton as he stressed there is a lot of hard work ahead.
Pilley said: “History is exactly what it says on the tin –that is how things used to be. I want to be creating history.
“You cannot control the past. Fleetwood has not got Championship or Premier League experiences, but what we can do is control today and we can look to make an impact on the future. It is the future that matters to me, not the past. We focus on the next game and see where that takes us, I don’t think anything is impossible.
“I got told by lots of people back in the UniBond that we would never make the Conference North, and that kind of talk just motivates me to prove them wrong. It has done all the time I’ve been here.
“For now we have to work hard and see where the results get us to this season. What will be will be.
“Six (promotions) in 12 – if we could make it another I’m told it would be unique in English football.
“I don’t think anyone has ever won seven promotions without any relegations. But we have a lot of work to do yet and everybody has to continue doing their job.
“It is good to dream and to be able to dream. Hope is what brings people to football matches. If football was predictable and everyone knew what the score was going to be, there would be no point going to the game.
“We are on a great run. We have played some very difficult opponents – Sheffield United, Charlton, MK Dons, Rochdale, Bradford, all in the last 10 games.
“We looked at the fixtures and knew that would be a difficult patch. We never expected to get 27 points from 33 in the last 11. That is exceptional form and if we continue that run anything is possible.”
Pilley took time out from his hectic schedule to speak to The Gazette from his office at the club’s £9.5m Poolfoot Farm training complex, happily reeling off stats as he continues to mix business with pleasure and oversee the transformation he helped put in motion back in 2004.
Nothing shows the development of the club under Pilley’s rule more than their spectacular Poolfoot base, opened by Sir Alex Ferguson in April last year.
It is a complex that near neighbours Blackpool – whose demise from the top tier to the fourth coincides with the rise of Fleetwood – can only dream of, with their Squires Gate base a far cry from the luxury of Town’s.
Poolfoot and Fleetwood are one example of what can happen when a club is run properly. Poolfoot helped to lure Wes Burns from Bristol City in January and, ironically ahead of Saturday’s big game at Scunthorpe, away from the Iron’s grip.
Pilley has a prime view from his office of the lush pitches where the first team train, and before racing off to watch his development squad’s 3-2 win over Sheffield United he cited the Thornton base as one of the best business decisions he has made.
And even after returning from a whistlestop trip in exotic Dubai, Blackpool lad Pilley says there is nowhere in the world he would rather be.
He said: “I have no remorse, no regrets. It is one of the best decisions we ever made. The site is a perfect location between Fleetwood, Cleveleys and ultimately Blackpool.
“It is a wonderful facility. I pinch myself every morning when I drive in. I think for the future it gives us a great chance.
“Whenever we show people round you see they are really surprised how wonderful it is.
“It gives us a great chance to develop players, make them better and to get them to the Championship and Premier League, hopefully with Fleetwood.”
After signing Burns, Markus Schwabl, Liverpool’s Joe Maguire (permanent) and Cameron Brannagan (loan) during the transfer window, as well as turning George Glendon’s loan deal from Manchester City into a permanent switch, Pilley says he backed head coach Uwe Rosler this January.
He said: “I’m backing the manager but I’m backing the club as well. We will always try to speculate to accumulate, and to accumulate success.
“We believe Wes Burns is a player who can play at a higher level. We’ve had him here before (on loan). We know what he is like as a character. We know he has lots and lots of ability, which is the reason we brought him in. We think he can make us better as a football club.
“Everyone knows what is expected now. The players certainly do.
“I think we have stability with (CEO) Steve Curwood and (technical director) Gretar Steinsson. All the rest of the staff know exactly what is expected of them as well, so the internal communication is really good.
“This is like running any other business. Just because it is a sporting business and it is results that people look for at 5pm on a Saturday, it is still about your various departments, your businesses within a business. You have to score highly within them to achieve success.”
Rosler has unsurprisingly been linked with other jobs in the national media, including that of the Norway national coach.
But Pilley said: “I think anyone who excels in their job at a football club is going to be hot property. I think it is like that with the players.
“Uwe is very happy. I know that because I speak to him regularly. He is doing a great job, so long may it continue.”