Pilley: Second tier is target
Andy Pilley says the Championship has to be the target as Town face another huge game on Sunday in their bid to clinch a place at Wembley and a shot at a historic first-ever promotion to the second tier of English football.
Pilley invested in excess of £10m to help Town climb five divisions in just seven seasons from the North West Counties League up to the Football League in 2012.
Since then, Pilley has invested more cash into the club and built a £9m state-of-the-art training complex at Poolfoot Farm.
And after clinching promotion to League One via the play-offs three years ago, Town now stand on the brink of history again.
Pilley was once told his club would never reach the Northern Premier League but the 46-year-old businessman says that sort of talk only fuels his fire as he bids to become the first owner ever to take a club from the sixth tier of non-legue to the second-highest division in the country.
Speaking of those doubters who told him Town would never escape the North West Counties, Pilley told The Gazette: “Those kind of statements motivate me every year to do all I can to prove those people wrong.
“I know the future is what we make it, and if we sit back and decide we will never do it, then we will never do it. But we have a very can-do attitude around the football club and we like to make things happen.
“I see no reason whatsoever why we can’t get over the line.
“First of all we have to get to Wembley, then we would have work to do at Wembley to get over the line again. The Championship has to be the target.”
Promotion would mean millions of pounds of television money, and with the possibility of hosting clubs with such huge fan-bases as Aston Villa, Bristol City and Leeds, Pilley says Championship status would bring massive financial benefits.
He said: “It would be enormous. There is a lot more money at stake in the Championship.
“It all depends how we decide to set up the club if we do get to the Championship. We have to decide what the budget would be.
“There would be a lot more funds available and that would mean we would be able to invest further still in order to progress further still.”
And a year on from the completion of Poolfoot Farm, Pilley says the club would be ready for the second tier.
As he surveyed the training base, he added: “I do believe we would be ready. You only have to look around.
“This is where the club is based 90 per cent of the time and it is a training ground that is easily fit for the Championship.”