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Football: Airbus UK Broughton’s Premier League hopes boosted

AIRBUS UK Broughton’s hopes of taking a place in next season’s new-look Welsh Premier League have been given a massive boost – but Buckley look like missing out on a place in the ‘Super 12’.

The Wingmakers have been handed £65,000 from the Welsh Ground Improvement meeting that should ensure they fulfil the criteria for the 2010-11 top-flight campaign.

And Airbus chairman Paul McKinlay believes the decision was helped by the club funding much of the ground improvements themselves over the last few months.

The former Airbus player said: “We’re obviously delighted with the news. We tried to focus on funding as much of the development work ourselves instead of relying on the Welsh FA for everything.

“We did quite a bit of work in the summer, particularly with the sprinkler system, improved drainage and the floodlights for the training area.

“I think that put us in good stead for the application, and it’s the last significant piece in the jigsaw for getting our domestic licence.

“Providing we finish in the top 10, we will secure our place in the 12 for next season.”

And McKinlay, who has been at the helm for 18 months, paid tribute to the club’s loyal committee members.

“At Airbus, they are all unpaid volunteers. Guys like Micky Mayfield, Steve Bennion, Phil Bailey, Mike and Allan Axon, Michelle Bailey and Marie Bennion do a fantastic job,” he added.

“They give so much of their time to further the club and over the last 12 months, the effort the committee has put in to try and get the club in the right place, you can’t say enough about what those people have done.

“Without the volunteers, there is no way the club could operate in the League of Wales – no way on earth.”

Now it is up to Craig Harrison and his side to meet the on-field requirements and finish in the top 10. The other two positions may be filled by promoted clubs if they can meet ground requirements.

The former English Premier League star said: “It’s fantastic news because we applied for £68,000 and to get £65,000 is over a 90% success rate of application, so it just proves the worth of the club, with all they have done without the funding.

“The FAW obviously think we are a club moving forward and we’ve already had work done to the pitch, as well as in and around the area.

“It’s definitely a forward-moving club and hopefully we can finish in the top 10 and be there next year, and the years after.”

The money will be used on improving the television gantry and building a stand behind the goal, which will take the Airfield’s seating capacity to over 500.

“The work is in progress at the moment so hopefully that should be finished in March,” added Harrison.

But it wasn’t all good news for Flintshire sides as Buckley say they have been rejected for any funding, meaning they are likely to start next season in the Cymru Alliance.

A despondent Town chairman Stewart Roberts – whose club rejected a place in the WPL before his arrival – told the Buckley website: “Are we disappointed? Yes, massively. We have put a lot of work in towards the licence application. Should we give up because of the lack of FAW support for feeder clubs? Absolutely not.

“We have every right to try and achieve a licence, people say Buckley Town should have gone up when they had the chance, but looking at the club when I came in, they made the right decision back then, and that is why we are in a position now to be very close to getting a licence.

“To be set back at this point makes you wonder whether that decision back then is being held against us.

“We are to continue with our application, we will continue to apply for grants, we will be happy to take our place in the newly competitive Cymru Alliance next year if we can secure a top six or seven position.”

“Our focus at the club now will be survival first and foremost in the Cymru Alliance whilst ground improvements take a back seat for obvious reasons. Once we secure our Cymru Alliance future, we can then re-assess where we are at after this funding setback.

Roberts added: “We have to forget this now and move on. However, when people say to me that the Super 12 is to be a closed shop and the FAW have their 12 earmarked for licence approval, I do tend to agree that could indeed be the case.”

When asked about the Buckley situation, an FAW spokesman said they have a policy of not commenting on individual club cases.