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Iron's board ponder taking a huge leap forward
Braintree Town could be set to make a landmark decision this week.
The club’s board of directors will be meeting on Thursday night to discuss whether they should apply for promotion to the Football League for the first time in their history.
While manager Alan Devonshire still has his priorities once again set on securing survival in the top flight of non-league football first and foremost, those running the club have their thoughts on the possibility of more lofty ambitions.
Each season clubs contemplating promotion to the Football League from the Conference Premier need to notify the League of their intention to apply for promotion by the end of the preceding November.
Devonshire’s team have made a steady start to the Skrill Premier season and home crowds have been up by 60 per cent from last year’s average after the first four league games at the Amlin Stadium.
With that in mind, chairman Lee Harding told the Times that the board will be looking at the possibility of making a momentous application.
“We need to make a decision over the next few weeks as to whether we go for it this season,” said Harding “The team are playing well and the good performances we’ve seen so far this season are a clear barometer for our aspirations.
“It’s just something we need to look at and to make a decision on.
“Imagine if we got ourselves into the top five at the end of the season and hadn’t made the application in November.
“We’d have to turn round to people and say ‘sorry, we can’t be involved in the play-offs’ and I don’t think that would go down too well.”
There will have to be changes made at Braintree’s home ground if they did go up, though, and getting permission to make them will play a big part in the club’s thinking.
The Amlin Stadium currently meets the minimum entry criteria for the Football League, but the application for promotion requires a detailed submission on how the club would further improve their ground to meet the League’s membership requirements.
That would require alterations including an extra 1,000 capacity, another 500 seats, brighter lights and more turnstiles.
Harding added: “We will need to show the League that we are working with our local planning authority, safety authority and local police and have their support for the further ground improvements.
“We will be talking to them all in the coming weeks.
“Some may suggest it would be prudent to hold fire until our new stadium is ready, but this could still be three to five years away and Alan Devonshire has assembled a squad that just might get us close to those play-offs this season.
“Time will tell.
“We need to keep our players fit and enjoy our fair share of luck, but, as ever, we have to plan for the off-the-pitch consequences of our progress on it.
“Getting the Amlin Stadium ready for the Football League would be a major challenge, but we’ve met challenges like this before.
“The football club is a Braintree success story.
“Between us – the club and the town we’re proud to represent – we’ve managed to match our progress on the pitch over the past ten years to that off of it and we’re all keen to maintain that momentum if we can.”
See more reaction to this story in this week's Braintree and Witham Times.
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