We do believe that we should be utilising local talent, admits Margate director

Saturday 17th June 2006
Margate are following in the footsteps of their Thanet rivals Ramsgate by nurturing their own local talent, writes Stephen McCartney.

In 2001 Ramsgate, plying their trade in the Kent League, embarked on a new policy of using local players and developed their own youth section.
Most of their back-to-back championship winning team have worked their way up through the ranks at the Southwood Stadium club, and will relish playing Margate in the Ryman Premier League next season.
And Margate will be searching for their very own Schulz and Vahid brothers as they too feel it is very important to develop their very own players.
“I think the youth set up for any club is crucial,” admitted Margate director Keith Piper.
“I’ve maintained for a long period of time that whilst we wasn’t able to deliver a comprehensive youth system in year one, it was always our objective to do so.”
Youth and reserve team football was put on the back burner as the club were playing at Dover Athletic and Ashford Town during their exile, but Mr Piper, speaking in an audio interview on the club’s website, admitted having a reserve side – playing in the Kent League – and youth sides will benefit the club.
“We’ve tried to support the links with our youth section and now this appointment of the academy to assist in that development is vital,” Mr Piper added.
“We do believe, that we should as a club, be utilising local talent. 
“We believe this is the vehicle that will assist us in developing some local players into the first team.
“So I think in that regard it is vital having local people in the first team and of course when you deliver your own youth it cuts down the cost of having to bring players in.”
With the club celebrating their first anniversary back at Hartsdown Park in August, Mr Piper admitted the club can re-open their doors to their local community.
He said:  “Since we went away three-four years ago, I think a big gap in the community developed and we’ve got a responsibility as a club to plug that and be available and involved in the community which we want to do.”
But the club are feeling frustrated as their development partners want to improve facilities at Margate's “temporary” home at Hartsdown Park.
Mr Piper explained: “One of the major hurdles I think (is) the new revised planning application is with the local authority at the moment.
“We expect to get a decision on that in July, maybe August.  We are told by the planners that the scheme that’s submitted now is a better scheme than the one that’s already been approved.
“But we hope from that we’ll see a recommendation and that will fall into place come July/August.
“Whilst on the planning side I think we’re in a situation where all the issues have been dealt with subject to approval.
“And developers have still got issues over the leases and I think that is the key to finance those negotiations, because as a club we’re not party to but I think the developers are pushing hard to try to finalise those points which are key to the development going ahead.”
The club are planning to build a large hotel, health and fitness facility, crèche and a theme pub at their revamped stadium, but a motorcycle test centre is holding things up.
Mr Piper explained: “The amendment that we submitted for planning includes a facility for the DSA, which is the Driving Standards Agency.

”That’s why we’ve had to go back to planning to get approval for that and that’s very much a key to the whole development because that underpins the finances for the whole scheme, so that is very fundamental to us moving forward.
“Having got that in place then we deliver as well as those commercial facilities, five-a-side pitches, an all-weather Astroturf, which brings in the role of our involvement in the community.
“We’ve just completed the Community Youth Agreement with the planners at Thanet District Council and that agreement is designed to set out the use the  community have for schools and organisations, which is mainly at low cost and some at reduced cost.
“I do believe that given the opportunity to deliver this development that we can provide a centre of the community in Thanet for football.
“I believe that everybody involved in football will want to be part of that community based here at Hartsdown Park.
“The social facilities and the conferencing facility that are all designed within the scheme will provide major venues for all clubs and all organisations wanting to form part of that development programme.”
Mr Piper was speaking on GATE CHAT, which was heard on www.margate-fc.com last night.
As well as the Margate director, chairman Malcolm Rowlett and BBC Radio Kent’s Matt Davison were interviewed.  To listen fully to all these interviews visit www.margate-fc.com.