Ilkeston Town boss Mark Clifford has no fears over his job tonight and will have to pressure himself for results after buying the Northern Premier League’s reformed Robins!
Clifford completed his takeover of last season’s Midland Football League Premier Division champions on Thursday after concluding successful negotiations with outgoing owner Alan Hardy.
Ex-Notts County owner Hardy purchased the club from the ashes of Ilkeston FC in July 2017 and oversaw promotion back to the Northern Premier League in his first year as chairman and owner.
Former Boston United and Mansfield Town star Clifford was only unveiled as head coach at the New Manor Ground in July.
Boston paid £7,500 to sign Clifford from Ilkeston in February 2001 before the defender helped the Pilgrims pip Dagenham and Redbridge to the Conference title in 2002. In total, he made 63 appearances for the club before leaving to join Nuneaton Borough.
He kicked off his touchline career at Basford United, working his way up through the ranks to U21s boss in 2015 before becoming number two to Martin Carruthers in 2016.
Clifford has told the Ilkeston Advertiser he has a number of investors with the funds to help build a ‘sustainable model’ for the NPL Division One South East club.
“I can confirm several millions of pounds are to be invested into the clubs new business model, securing its future, providing better facilities and funds to strengthen the playing staff along with creating a community project that not only supporters, but local businesses and residents can participate in and be proud of.
“”It’s taken a while to push it through but I’m thrilled it’s now complete. All at the club believe community involvement during these exciting times is paramount in its predicted future success.”
“I have a couple of investors that I’m keen to get on board and there are various plans that we will reveal in the coming days and weeks that will detail the sustainable model we aim to create which I believe will never see the club go out of existence again.”
“There’ll be no immediate change in the running of the team and I’ll still be calling the shots from the dugout on Saturday afternoon but, away from our matchdays, we will be putting a plan together that can deliver the stability needed to become self-sufficient and successful.
“This is an extremely proud day for me and an ambition fulfilled after 25 years in football.
“I’m going into this with my eyes wide open knowing that there is a lot of hard work ahead to develop our squad and improve our ground.
“As people are aware, my involvement with the club is not limited to the present time. I have also had time at the club as a player in the past.
“Despite much turmoil over the years, along with the constant threat of extinction, I was pleasantly surprised at the unwavering passion still being shown both within the club and by the supporters.
“For this reason along with my own personal ambition, I decided to use a network of my contacts to try securing help in purchasing the club, along with moving it forward to where I believe it needs to be.
“These people have now committed to investing significant funds in order to purchase the club and pay off all outstanding debt.
“Their vision and business model in respect of creating a self-sustaining club whilst enabling me to build a team capable of progressing to greater heights will be exemplary to other Non-League clubs and there for all to see in forthcoming press releases.
Clifford also paid tribute to Hardy for his role in rescuing the Robins and helping them to start climbing back up football’s ladder this season following their promotion in May.
He added: “Anyone that puts time, effort and money into a project of this nature deserves tremendous credit and I would like to thank Alan Hardy for the part that he has played in Ilkeston’s history and saving the Club back in July 2017.
“There are big challenges ahead but I’ll be surrounded by good people committed to driving our standards, on and off the pitch.
“My history with Ilkeston stretches back a long way and while it may appear like a big leap, an opportunity to become the custodian of the Club felt like something that I had to embrace.”