Friday 13th May 2005

Kilcullen not gambling with Fleet's life

CHAIRMAN Brian Kilcullen has disclosed that securing Beauwater Sports was the catalyst behind Gravesend & Northfleet’s transition from part-time to full-time football.

Not since Maidstone United resigned from the Football League in 1992 has Kent boasted two full-time clubs.

When the new Nationwide Conference season kicks off on Saturday, August 13, the Fleet will swell the ranks of full-time Conference clubs to well over half among the 22.

Mr Kilcullen, a 43-year-old accountant, assured supporters that the club’s seven-strong board of directors were not prepared to gamble with the life of the Fleet and that their financial homework had been thorough.

He said: "When I first became chairman five years ago, the objective was to get into the Football League. Full-time football goes with that. Going full-time in the Conference was something I did not envisage but then the Conference has changed.

"It’s a big leap, but we’re making that leap because we’re getting things in place. We’ve looked at the worst case scenarios and have made sure the club is covered.

"What we all hope for is that the town responds positively to us making this switch and realise that here is a club that wants to go places."

Mr Kilcullen makes no attempt to minimise the significance of securing Fleet Leisure, formerly Beauwater Sports Ground in Nelson Road, Northfleet, in the decision to go full-time.

"Getting hold of Beauwater was the catalyst which enabled the club to make the switch," he said.

"We now have ready-made facilities on which to base a full-time operation. Having Fleet Leisure also enables the club to do more work in the community.

"In short, it will be home to our youth section, football in the community, first team training but also a facility for the community, schools and Saturday and Sunday senior clubs.

"The other side to it is that there is a big social facility which we want to turn into a popular leisure destination."

Full-time training for the players will consist of four sessions a week. Two will be held in the evenings to enable the part-time players to attend.