A HUGELY significant period in the history of Warrington Town Football Club is about to start.

The club are facing a race against time to complete the necessary upgrades to Cantilever Park to ensure it is passed fit to continue hosting National League North football.

All work must be completed by March 29, otherwise Yellows face being relegated back to the Northern Premier League regardless of where they finish, in which case they would also be ineligible for promotion next season.

That appears to be the only barrier to them remaining at Step Two, with Mark Beesley's men having exceeded all expectations to sit 12th in the table despite having a paper-thin squad, with long-serving midfielder Bohan Dixon the latest departure having joined Macclesfield earlier this week.

Ahead of yesterday's 0-0 draw with Boston United, our sports reporter Matt Turner caught up with chairman Toby Macormac for an update on all aspects of the club...

MT: We’ll start with Bohan Dixon’s move to Macclesfield, which it’s fair to say came as a bit of a shock to a lot of people.

Can you take us through the deal and why you feel it’s the best one both for the club and Bohan himself?

TM: Really, that one was all about Bo. It wasn’t really about the club.

He’s been a great servant to the club and fans love him. Not only has he been great on the field but he’s been fantastic off it, including helping out a young supporter of ours through his battle with cancer.

It’s come at the age of 34 and he’s been offered nearly three times what he was on here. When you get that deal offered to you at 34, it’s something you have to look at.

To try and keep Bohan here would have been morally wrong, so he goes with our best wishes and I hope he makes a real fist of it at Macclesfield.

It’s a good move for him so we have to do everything we can to help players in that aspect.

Warrington Guardian: Bohan Dixon was sold to Macclesfield last week having made 196 appearances for TownBohan Dixon was sold to Macclesfield last week having made 196 appearances for Town (Image: Sean Walsh)

MT: On that, Mark Beesley made a good point in talking about Bohan’s move in that the flip side of the success you’ve had on the pitch is that clubs want to come and take your players, not just from higher up the pyramid but clubs lower down with greater financial resources, so I guess it speaks to how well you’ve done as a club over the past couple of years?

TM: It does – we’ve had enquiries for other players recently which shows how far we’ve come.

When you’re trying to balance work on the ground with trying to get to a certain place in the league, you can’t have players on huge money.

So when you’ve got players doing really well, it does sometimes make it easier for clubs to come in and then the player has to do what he feels is best for himself.

MT: Obviously if you continue to do well on the pitch, that interest from elsewhere will no doubt continue so can you assure fans in any way that every effort is being made to keep hold of your prized assets, both for what remains of this season and going into next?

TM: Yes we are – we’ve had interest for another player as recently as a couple of weeks ago and that was met with a firm “no.” We turned that down, the player’s not for sale and we want him to stay with us.

You don’t want to be labelled as a “selling club” because we’re not. The Bohan Dixon deal was purely about what was best for him.

If clubs come in for other players, unless it’s a groundbreaking deal for the club, our players aren’t for sale.

We’ve still got a job to do within the league – yes, we’re not far off the 50 points we considered to be the safety net but we have to keep plugging away as best we can.

MT: There have been a lot of players leaving the club this season under varying circumstances while there has only been one permanent signing in-season, that of Andre Wisdom.

Obviously, there are reasons for that which everybody understands but if something came up that would help the squad this season and going forward into next, is there resource there to look at it?

TM: There’s probably two answers to that question.

If you look at the signing of Kacper Pasiek from Preston this week – Kacper has come in on a work experience loan, which is near enough zero cost to us.

With where we are in the table at the minute and with the work we’ve got to do on the ground, that absolutely has to be factored in.

The finances of the club come first and foremost when you’re in a tight situation, but you have to spin plates with it because if something does come your way that you think can secure for the rest of this season and next, it has to be looked at.

If he’s a similar player to what we’ve got or better, then we’ve got a decision to make.

It’s always tough at this time of the season because what we don’t want is players coming in just to see out the last 11 weeks. If we’re going to bring someone in of quality, it’s got to be someone who wants to be here next season as well.

We’re constantly reviewing that situation because it genuinely is a plate-spinning exercise.

Warrington Guardian: Since the season kicked off, Town have made only one permanent signing - that of former Liverpool defender Andre WisdomSince the season kicked off, Town have made only one permanent signing - that of former Liverpool defender Andre Wisdom (Image: Sean Walsh)

MT: On the field, the team have done brilliantly to the point where they are all but safe from relegation even in early-February.

In that aspect, has it gone better than you imagined it would?

TM: I think it has, to be honest.

It was key that we kept the band together from last year – I know we’ve lost one or two but all in all, it’s been a really good performance on the field and all the credit for that has to go to Mark, the staff and the players.

We’ve probably got the opportunity to maybe get up to 60 points and get ourselves a really safe mid-table position, which for our first season in the National League North is a fantastic achievement.

It’s going to be really good next season that we should be a fully-fledged National League club as opposed to being the new kids on the block, which is a great thing to be able to say.

It’s testament to the work we’ve done – there’s been a bit of a “small squad revolution” if you’d like and it’s paid dividends.

Warrington Guardian: Town currently sit 12th in the National League North table on 48 points - just two shy of the play-off spots - having lost just once since the turn of the yearTown currently sit 12th in the National League North table on 48 points - just two shy of the play-off spots - having lost just once since the turn of the year (Image: Sean Walsh)

MT: We’ve spoken a few times this season and your mantra throughout has been “stay up on the field, stay up off it.”

The team have almost accomplished the first part, where are things up to with the second part?

TM: I think “teetering on the edge” is the easiest way to summarise it because the weather has absolutely killed the project. If we look just at this past week, Thursday and Friday were just complete wash-outs.

We have got a date for the stand to be put in, which is hopefully going to be week commencing February 26.

We’ve got a lot of concrete to pour between now and then and get it cured, so we’re going to have to come up with some waterproofing techniques if it’s going to be wet through the week.

For us to stay on track, we have to be pouring concrete this week.

I have spoken to the FA to look at an extension, which is purely weather-driven. If you look back, there’s been two or three named storms, we’ve had frozen ground and of course, there is the financial aspect on top of that.

It's not been a case of us not doing work – when fans have come to games recently, they will have seen more and more work getting done but next week is a really big week for us.

We’ve got a few weeks now where we’ve no Saturday home fixtures, which are difficult to work around because you can’t really leave things out and leave gaping holes everywhere.

As soon as Monday morning arrives, we’ve got to get stuck in.

MT: You mentioned the weather there and it has been a particularly ropey winter on that front, but take us through the other challenges you’ve had with the ground work.

You’ve had that and the financial aspect has been well-documented but there have been a lot of regulations to deal with, haven’t there?

TM: There is a lot you have to deal with.

Take last week for example – we’ve got some phone masts on the ground and one of the new paths goes through the sub-lease of their domain.

As such, we’ve had to change that to being a flagged area, which we weren’t expecting so we’ve had to change the specifications of that job.

We’re hoping that very soon, the funding drops in and we can get the teams in that we’ve lined up and get things delivered – the toilets for example have been earmarked on a site for a number of months.

Once we get the green light, that can be lifted over the fence and plumbed in.

It’s a really important month for us as far as finishing the project goes.

Warrington Guardian: As part of the planned upgrades to Cantilever Park, a new stand with toilet and refreshment facilities will be constructed at the Wash Lane end of the groundAs part of the planned upgrades to Cantilever Park, a new stand with toilet and refreshment facilities will be constructed at the Wash Lane end of the ground (Image: Sean Walsh)

MT: As you mentioned there, there is money coming from the Premier League Stadium Fund that you’ve applied for and will hopefully be arriving soon.

There’s also the Groundfunder, which has had an excellent response with nearly £25,000 raised, but that still leaves a shortfall of tens of thousands of pounds.

If you don’t mind me asking, where is that money coming from?

TM: Looking at the Groundfunder, that has been unbelievable. The crowd and the fans have all pulled together to make this happen and take the club forward.

All season, fans have been running bucket collections in all kinds of weather, which has been phenomenal, people have contributed when buying match tickets online as well.

There has been an amazing contribution there but when we announced how big the shortfall was, we knew it was tough times out there for everyone so to think we would have raised between 80 and £100,000 just through the Groundfunder was probably a high expectation.

Within that, I suppose the answer of how we fill the shortfall is probably through myself.

I am speaking to a few people at the moment about some outside investment coming into the club – it’s early days with that but I am working on it – but for the foreseeable future, it will be myself.

MT: You touched on this earlier but anyone who has been to particularly the past couple of home games will have seen that things have started to happen – cuts in the land, roped-off areas etc.

There’s now a two-week window before the next home game so when Brackley Town arrive in a fortnight, will things look different again?

TM: Yes they will.

By the Brackley game, I’m hoping that all the concreting for the away end will be complete so people shouldn’t see any holes in the ground.

Everything should be concreted ready to receive the new stand, the toilet block and the new kiosks.

We’re also hoping that by that time that all the hardcore is in place where the new paths have been dug out, so that will be ready to receive concrete and the new handrail.

We’ve got to make a real fist of these days where we’ve got no matches and push on as hard as we can.

MT: It sounds like there are targets for having certain things done by certain times around home fixtures.

Do you have a date where you want everything to be done or will it go right to the wire and the deadline of March 29?

TM: I think we’re going to try and book a ground grading visit around the first week of March, just to get a feel of how he thinks the work is going and how he thinks the end result will be.

He could end up coming in, looking at something and it being not quite what they want, so we don’t want any surprises two days before the deadline.

An early visit would be good just to get an update so we don’t get those kind of surprises.

MT: I guess you have to remain positive and optimistic about everything being done on time, but does that translate into confidence that it will be?

TM: We have to remain confident that we will get it finished, but our biggest challenge at the minute is the weather.

We can’t pour concrete in the pouring rain so we have to hope for decent weather as nothing can really be done without that.

We remain positive and we have to target early-March – we mentioned applying for an extension but we may not get it, so we can’t do the work based on maybe getting an extension.

We have to push as hard as we can and get it all done by March 29, and probably earlier.

Really, I’d like to have at least the away end finished by the Scunthorpe game (March 23) even if the paths maybe aren’t quite complete by then.

That would then be its first real test and you can’t ask for a bigger test than a team like that coming to town.

MT: My last question and perhaps my most important one is that we’ve seen “fan power” in action throughout the season with the Groundfunder.

It’s the final push now, so how can people help you get this over the line?

TM: The biggest thing is that there could be a day coming up soon where we need a load of things moving by hand.

It will just be a case of picking it up at one end of the ground and moving it to the other, which will save us a lot of time and effort.

If people come down en masse and help us with that – there will be a message put out on our channels about it – that would be hugely appreciated.