Borough weigh up full-time switch

Brett Poate limps off against Bath City last month. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150246-6)

Brett Poate limps off against Bath City last month. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150246-6)

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Alex Pike has confirmed that Gosport Borough have discussed the prospect of going full-time.

The Privett Park club’s players are semi-professional – training two evenings each week – and they travel to Eastbourne Borough tomorrow as their quest for a play-off place continues.

But if they do achieve promotion to Vanarama Conference Premier at the end of the season, the Borough boss knows it will represent a major challenge to be able to compete with professional clubs.

Pike said: ‘Going full-time is an option we will look at.

‘We want success, we want to be ambitious and we want promotion.

‘It might not happen this year and we are not counting our chickens but it might happen the following year and we have to be ready for that.

‘I think the majority of the clubs are full-time in the Conference Premier.

‘I’ve been told there are 11 clubs that are full-time in the Conference South.

‘Other clubs are somewhere between part-time and full-time or have some full-time players.

‘Havant and Sutton United are down that transitional route where they train some mornings during the week.

‘Some criticism has been labelled at this club saying we have got it right on the pitch but maybe we haven’t got it right off the pitch.

‘But we have got a strategy that we are working towards. So those “what ifs” have to be taken into account.

‘If we are in the Conference Premier, we have to have a strategy for that.

‘If we’re not, we need a plan on how we will improve on this season. A lot of work has to go into that.’

It would represent a major shift for Borough, especially with so many local players in their team holding down regular jobs.

And they also need some minor ground improvements to be completed by March 31 to take a place in the play-offs, if they make it – something Pike is confident will happen.

The key factor, however, is to ensure they claim their place in the top five and with the Hawks also challenging, there is a growing prospect of another mouthwatering derby between the two south-coast clubs.

Pike said: Of course we have thought about that – absolutely.

‘I’ve worked it all out that we will finish fourth, they (Hawks) will finish fifth and then we will meet in the final at Privett Park for a place in the Conference Premier!

‘The FA Trophy semi-final was big at the time but that would be a bigger game.

‘People are starting to dream it might happen but we both have to get there and nobody is taking anything for granted.

‘There are still a lot of points to play for but we have won five on the bounce and it’s the right time to get into form.’

Danny Smith is suspended but Brett Poate came through the Hampshire Senior Cup semi-final win at Farnborough after his calf strain and is expected to return to partner Sam Pearce in central defence.

GOSPORT BOROUGH: (from) Ashmore, Forbes, Pearce, Poate, Williams, Carter, Dunford, Ramsey, Robinson, Wilde, Wooden, Paterson, Bennett, Saez, Benham, Wort, Benham

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