Ambitious South Shields FC chairman Geoff Thompson has called on the community to get behind his ‘project’ to take the club all the way to the Football League.
The Mariners have enjoyed tremendous success since Mr Thompson took over as chairman in the summer of 2015, including a historic FA Vase triumph at Wembley in front of more than 15,000 fans.
Three consecutive promotions have been won, and Shields are plotting three more to take them to the promised land of the Football League.
The club has today launched Project EFL – and is calling on businesses and the public to get behind it.
South Shields has not had a Football League club since 1930, but Mr Thompson firmly believes the Mariners have the potential to get there.
He said: “This is a tremendously exciting time for the club after a period of almost unparalleled success.
“We are now looking to take the next step in our journey and want the community to feel like they are a huge part of things.
“They are absolutely central to our ambitions, because without the support of both the business community and general public, we will not get to where we want to be.
“To talk about reaching the Football League as a ‘dream’ would be incorrect, because it implies that we don’t fully believe we can get there.
“We absolutely do believe we can, and hope many others in South Tyneside and beyond share that belief and ambition.
“Every decision we make at the club – on and off the field – will now be made with Project EFL in mind.
“We want to grow our fanbase and network of sponsors to help us achieve what would be an incredible thing for the town.”
The club will be encouraging businesses and supporters to get behind Project EFL by displaying the project’s logo wherever they can.
As well as their ambition to reach the Football League, the Mariners are focused on being a community club which caters for all. More than 250 youngsters are involved with the club’s charitable arm –South Shields FC Foundation – which runs the club’s junior teams.
The Foundation encourages a multi-sport experience for young people as well as activities and events which promote learning and team-work.
The club also launched an Academy last summer, catering for talented players aged between 16 and 19 in conjunction with Sunderland College. The club’s ambition is to help secure its future success by developing its own players.
At the heart of everything is the ambition for the first-team to reach the Football League and bring the football glory days back to South Tyneside.
Mr Thompson added: “We have a tremendous team of staff at the club who are all working towards our targets and delivering our ambitions.
“We can’t do it alone, though, and we want people to feel engaged enough to get behind this.
“Imagine how brilliant it would be to reach the Football League.
“It’s certainly possible.”