28 Oct 2020 in News
The new owner of Wythenshawe Town has revealed ambitious plans to put the town on the football map even though many clubs are fighting for survival.
Entrepreneur Chris Eaton sees no reason why his club cannot emulate Salford City and Fleetwood Town, sides which rose from non-League obscurity to reach the English Football League.
Wythenshawe was thrust into the national spotlight when the Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford, who grew up in the south Manchester suburb, persuaded the government to make a U-turn on free school meals.
Now Wythenshawe Town, who play in First Division South of the North West Counties League - the 10th tier of English football - plan to make a name for themselves by their exploits on the pitch.
Eaton is optimistic about their future, even though the prospects are bleak for many hard-up clubs fighting to deal with the effects of Covid-19.
Town are waiting for the FA to rubber-stamp a change to a limited company, a decision backed unanimously by club members.
Wythenshawe will be owned by the OTE group, in which Eaton has a 75 per cent interest with business partners Adam Tarling and Chris O'Donovan co-owners.
Eaton, club chairman for two years, realises the scale of the job. He said: "We've got a very healthy budget and will be in the top four I'm sure and must be one of the favourites to win our league this season.
"We've only had one season in non-League because last season was null, and void and we'd surely have been promoted. We had a tremendous season and have improved the squad. I do think the people of Wythenshawe will come and support us on our journey.
"The takeover has been carefully thought out and the three of us have the financial backing. I've been in business a long time and I'm very dogged and determined.
"I love the challenge and feel rejuvenated. I sold my main business when I was 52 because I was bored and did not have enough to do, and this has given me a second wind.
"I do this now for a living and am down at the club every day. You'll find at a lot of non-League football clubs the chairman is part-time because they're still working or running a business. This is my business; this is my life."
The club have permission to build The Townhouse, a hospitality suite on match days and available for community use. A 3G pitch and academy at their Ericstan Park ground are also part of ommunity plans to help regenerate Baguley and beyond.
Eaton added: "I'm in it for the long term. There are 100,000 people in Wythenshawe, while Altrincham has only 50,000 and the same in Macclesfield and we know what happened to them.
"Chorley, who were relegated from the National League last season, has a population of 30,000. We really do think we can take our club through non-League football steadily and really put it on the map.
"I've said we'd like two promotions in the next four years which will take us the Northern Premier League First Division and then we'll go again.
"You'll always have United, City and Altrincham round the corner but it's not as though we've been in the non-League pyramid for 10 years. We have been in for one season effectively and before that in the Cheshire League.
"Fifteen years ago, Fleetwood Town were where we are now. They are a league club with a catchment area of about 25,000. When people see what we are doing and the investment and time and money that is going into it, I think they'll want to be part of it."
Town – currently with a 100% win record in the league - play their next home game of the season on Saturday 31st October against North Ferriby FC kick off 3.00 pm. Pay on the gate £5 adults; £3 concessions (under 16s, students and over 65s). Under 12s are free.