Harrogate Town already planning for life in the Football League

Harrogate Town hope to be celebrating a second promotion in as many seasons. Picture: Caught Light Photography
Harrogate Town hope to be celebrating a second promotion in as many seasons. Picture: Caught Light Photography

With the club currently challenging up near the top of English football’s fifth tier, Harrogate Town are already making the necessary preparations for life in the Football League.

Despite only being promoted to the National League at the end of last season, Simon Weaver’s team are flourishing and currently sit fourth in the table, four points behind leaders Wrexham.

Significant changes would need to be made at Town’s Wetherby Road home, and with a second jump up the pyramid in as many years a very real possibility, managi1`1`ng director Garry Plant says that the club are ready for such an eventuality.

“Our aspiration is to be a Football League club, and whether we achieve that this season or end up staying where we are, we have contingencies in place already,” he told the Harrogate Advertiser.

“There are still lots of variables we have to consider at this stage, but the biggest thing would be having to put down a grass pitch and we’ve planned for that.

“It would be a crying shame to lose the plastic playing surface, however if we have to, then we have to.

“There are also a few other improvements we would need to make around the stadium.

“We need to increase capacity, but we already have the planning permission that would enable us to do so.”

In addition to ripping up their artificial 3G pitch that was only installed in 2016, Town would also have to increase capacity at the CNG Stadium (currently 3,000) by 1,000 if they were to go up.

The Football League require that the ground occupied by a club promoted to League Two must have a certified capacity of at least 4,000 (with the ability to be increased to 5,000) which shall include at least 500 seats (with the ability to be increased to 1,000).

Town would then have until April 30 in its first season as a member of the EFL to expand the capacity to 5,000 and add the additional 500 seats, while also demonstrating the ability to double that number in the future.

Planning permission has already been granted for proposed developments at Wetherby Road which would allow the club to raise capacity to around the 5,000 mark.

Proposals include a new two-storey clubhouse, seated terraces, an office building, classrooms to be used as community facilities and a new, improved floodlighting system.

“A great deal more investment will be required, but if we want to realise our ambitions, then that’s what we will do,” Plant added.