Harrogate Town have announced that they will begin to operate on a full-time basis from the start of the 2017/2018 campaign.
Simon Weaver’s men narrowly missed out on promotion from National League North last season and currently find themselves 10th in the division, nine points shy of a play-off berth.
With promotion to the National League having been a firm aim for a number of years, the decision has been made that going fully professional will help the club realise its ambitions going forward.
And boss Weaver believes the progression from operating as a part-time outfit will give his side the best opportunity of progressing, regardless of what division the club find themselves in next season.
“We are moving into a new era for the club and we strongly believe that now is the right moment to announce our intention to go full-time,” he said.
“We have spoken about if for a while, but now we have the infrastructure in place to make this step up.
“There is already a professional mindset here, and I want every player to also have that mentality of being a full-time footballer.
“As a club we have been preparing for this transition for a while, and as such it is important for us to be honest and open with everyone involved as early as we possibly can.
Weaver is clearly excited about the prospect of the club going professional and also confirmed that his playing staff share his enthusiasm.
“Making our intentions known now gives our players, staff and supporters the best possible opportunity to adapt and prepare for the exciting change that is ahead of us,” he added.
“All the players have reacted positively to the news, and we are confident that each and every member of the squad will remain 100 per cent committed to the cause for the duration of this season.
We’re a close-knit, ambitious group right across the club and this further signals our intent to do things the right way.
“Ultimately, there are a number of teams at this level that are already full-time, professional clubs, and you can clearly see the benefit of working with players on a daily basis.
“For me, you can’t underestimate how much of a massive leap in the right direction this is for our football club.”
Town’s managing director Gary Plant echoed Weaver’s sentiments, adding that he felt the move was a natural progression for the club.
“This is a big decision for all of us. We understand the impact that moving to full-time will have on players, staff and supporters but ultimately we believe it to be the best course of action at this moment,” he said.
“We knew we would have to step up at some point in the near future, and with the club now progressing in almost every department, 2017/2018 felt like a natural point to make the move. T
“his is a major signal of intent as we welcome a new era for both our football club and for the wider community of Harrogate.”