Merger of two football clubs could 'transform' Wakefield district
The uniting of two clubs could bring massive economic growth and league football to the Wakefield district.
A new club, called Ossett United could be formed after Ossett Town and Ossett Albion announced they were merging.
And senior figures on the board hope the new club will bring bigger crowds into the town which will benefit the whole community.
They are also looking to raise the new club’s profile, win promotion, perhaps go on a lucrative FA cup ruin and ultimately help put the town firmly on the map.
The new club’s chief executive Phil Smith, who spent four seasons working at Manchester United, said: “This is something that could transform Ossett and transform the district
“I think when you get to a certain level, a national media level, the town can see the economic value.”
In 1998 non-league Emley FC reached the third round of the FA Cup, playing West Ham, and Mr Smith hopes the new club can scale the same heights.
He said: “It can be done with right people behind it but it is not possible without the fans – with the backing of the town anything is achievable.
“Football is about identity and representing something, going to another town with your flag. And although Ossett enjoyed its internal derby it has never gone on a big cup run for example, and we are saying the clubs can have a better and stronger identity, taking on teams above us, together.”
Debbie Squires is part of the Love Ossett business group, which is also trying to improve the town. She said: “It would put us on the map and get Ossett’s name out there.
“They have that fighting spirit and I definitely think they could get into the league.
“This is a good community and we all help each other.
“We help the football teams and they help us so I think everyone will get behind this and look forward to exciting times.”
Ossett independent councillor Nick Farmer said: “I think it is fantastic for the town and the community. Our ambitions are to get up the foobtball pyramid and I think people from Wakefield will support it as well.
“It will encourage people to come in and shop, and business can go forward as it move the whole ethos of the town upwards.”
The clubs hope the merger will be given FA approval in early April and have plans to revamp Town ground Ingfield if the proposal is given the green light.
Mr Smith said he intends the team to go full time within three years and reach the football league in five. The team will play in blue and Ingfield will become the main home base, with
Dimplewells, Albion’s ground, to be used for training and coaching, as well as the junior and ladies’ teams.
Fans in the town have largely backed the mood.
Town fan Anthony Playford said: “Both clubs have great history and I’ll go anyway but to me they’ll always be Town. And we’ll definitely miss our derby day.”
Neil Spofforth said: “I think it is a great move and fully support this merger. The possibilities of Ossett United are endless.”
Peter Craven said: “I think they might be strong enough to go up – Town have some really good players.”
John Watson said; “It’s got to be good for the town. Some fans will find it hard but at the end of the day they’ll have to accept it.”
Peter Åhlen said: “It came as a shock at first, but it’s starting to grow on me. The sad thing is that it will be the last time I see Ossett Albion at Easter.”
Luke Drysdale, who previously played for Ossett Albion junior teams, said: “I think it’s a good idea and long overdue. The first teams will now benefit from this and attendances will hopefully increase. I’m glad they have kept the junior set up as the Albion-Town rivalry is a big part of the kids’ childhood.”
Irene Padgett said: “It must be difficult for the players waiting to see who still has a job at the end of the season.”