SOLIHULL Moors owner Darryl Eales says that the club are not out of reach of achieving their long-term aim of reaching League One, as long as they can make it out of the National League.
Currently, only two promotion places are on offer from the non-league into the Football League, with Moors missing out by the skin of their teeth last season after falling in the National League play-off semi-final to AFC Fylde.
With the the club acquiring 2018/19 National League top scorer Paul McCallum, alongside a player in Mitch Hancox who experienced promotion from the league with Macclesfield Town in 2018, Solihull have made known their intent for this campaign.
“I think the important thing about the team is that we’ve focused recruitment on winners,” said Eales.
“If you look at the players we’ve brought in, Mitch Hancox has won promotion from this division, Kyle Storer, Darren Carter, Danny Wright, we’ve got a lot of players who know this league inside out – I think if the pressure’s on, it will be good for us.
“We just need to grow our fanbase, but the great thing about Moors is that we haven’t got a history of expectation like one or two other teams, but what we do have is ambitious plans.
“For me it’s two edged, I’ve got to get the infrastructure right off the pitch, even if it takes us longer to get promoted.”
Eales, speaking at a recent media day in front of the completely refurbished Main Stand, says that the club can be turned into a key hub for the Solihull community and surrounding areas.
“We had a five-year plan to make a lot of improvements to the stadium,” he said.
“We’ve got a 3G pitch behind the stand, so we want to make it a real community club and welcoming to families and children, because at root we need to remain a community-based club – that’s the foundation.”
Looking forward, the Solihull owner is keen to capitalise on successes last season, and appreciates the newfound interest in the club after mounting an unexpected promotion push.
“The reception we’re getting from people is fantastic at the moment, it’s hard to pitch where we’re going to be on gates this season, because in the last two home games [last season against Leyton Orient and AFC Fylde] we had 4,000 sell outs,” said Eales.
“The critical thing for me now is to try and maintain that sense of excitement and interest around the club in the local community, and try to get as many people to come down here and experience it – for me this is how football should be.”
Eales still has his eyes set on achieving Football League status in line with his long-term vision, but after the recent successes of former National League clubs Lincoln City and Tranmere Rovers in reaching the third tier, believes that the Moors can be the next club to achieve quickfire promotions.
“With my own background, having owned Oxford and got promotion from League Two, I actually think that it’s a lot easier to get promotion from League Two than out of National League,” he said.
“I would think if we can get promoted from this league, there’s no reason in a few years time why we can’t be playing in League One on a sustainable basis.
An area that he identifies as being a key priority in the near future is the development of youth players, and views this as an area that can come to the fore by the start of next season.
“Something that I’m very keen on, once we’ve got our own training ground, certainly from the beginning of next season, is either a reserve or under-23 team,” said the Moors owner.
“I think it’s essential that we start to bring our own players through.
“At the moment, we’ve tried to circumvent that by strengthening the squad with proven talent, but over the next, three to five years, I’d like a much more proven pathway through to the first team.”