Saturday 18th June 2005

Light at the end of the tunnel for Margate 

MARGATE boss Chris Kinnear is relishing the opportunity to delve into the summer's transfer market as the embargo that was placed on them during most of last season has been lifted, writes Stephen McCartney.

And with Hartsdown Park resembling a building site at the moment as they return to their home after a three year exile, the club has been boosted with a three-year sponsorship deal.

The deal with Thanet based company Active is worth five figures in the first year and includes financial incentives geared towards the club's climb back to the Nationwide Conference.

The company will also be kit sponsors for the first team and the 13 re-formed youth teams and Kinnear sees this as a step forward.

Full credit goes to Kinnear for staying loyal to the club during a traumatic three years.  The club has groundshared Dover Athletic (2 years) and Ashford Town last season and has seen his side demoted from the Conference and then suffered relegation into the Ryman Premier League.

"Without being able to bring in players it really had our hands tied behind our backs but now this transfer embargo (lifting), with the ground going ahead as well, and we've also got a new main sponsor all off a sudden its back to the good old days of three years ago when we were really flying," Kinnear told BBC Radio Kent.

"We've halted the downward spiral and going forward."

Kinnear, who has seen the ups and downs with the Thanet club since joining the club in May 1996, is very positive about the future.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel and to be fair we are one of a very few clubs that would still be in existence because its a very close nit club," he said.

"The supporters, directors and players are very close and we've all hung on because we knew if we did get through at the other end there would be a massive future - and the club can go from strength to strength, and I'm sure it will do."

Playing at Crabble and the Homelands in the past three years has been hard on the club, as gates plummeted to around the 200 mark last season, but Kinnear praises the club's loyal following.

"We've had great support really," he admitted.  "The ones that have turned up have really had to put themselves out.  

"It's a fair old trek to Ashford and Dover so I am pleased for them, they've stuck with us.  However, the ones that haven't come you can understand, it's a long trek and we don't begrudge that.

"We were getting 1700-1800 on average three years ago so all of a sudden if they start coming back that will allow me to strengthen the team as there will be more money coming through.

"It will be interesting, I'm sure that we can get that - once it's all finished - we can go even further from what we've already achieved."