Fort William chairman John Trew believes the club has entered a new era.
The appointment of Shadab Iftikhar as manager has led to an overhaul of the playing squad, while the Lochaber outfit are also making changes off the pitch.
They remain eight points adrift at the bottom of the Breedon Highland League, but Claggan Park chief Trew says the club will be run more professionally than it has been previously.
He said: “We’re not just looking at the club as some little platform for local lads to step up to, it’s going to be run as a professional club.
“If the local lads are good enough, they’ll get in. We’ll try to develop local lads in the youth teams.
“But you don’t see people going to Old Trafford and telling Cristiano Ronaldo to leave because he wasn’t born in Manchester.
“The attitude towards the club from everyone has got to change – the old Fort William’s gone – it’s in the bin.
“The manager has said that many times and the chairman backs him up on that.”
Manager has made his mark
New boss Iftikhar hasn’t yet taken charge of a game because of postponements.
However, he has cast the net far and wide in the search for new faces.
Iftikhar has brought in Taylor Kelly, Adam Morris, Yves Zamma, Josh Niblock, Sean Muchenje and Jordan Thompson from the likes of the English North West Counties League.
The players have moved to Fort William and will work part-time alongside training or playing five days a week.
Trew added: “It’s pleasing to see the work that’s been done, because we needed some fresh faces.
“The last lot weren’t getting results, so we had to make some changes.
“Shadab always wanted to put his own mark on the squad and it was the same for me as the chairman when I came in.
“You want to change a few things, our hands were tied by the transfer window and we lost one big target who dropped out last minute. But the door is still open if he wants to come.
“Shadab is putting his own mark on the club now.
“He inherited the players from the last manager, and some of them he didn’t think were up to the job and he’s brought his own lads in.
“The club’s going on to full-time training.
“The attitude of the lads is really good, they’ll be training and playing five of the seven days and they’ll have part-time jobs alongside that.”
No budget boost
Despite the influx of players who will be committing a great amount of time to Fort, Trew says the playing budget at Claggan Park has not been increased.
“The playing budget is exactly the same as what the old manager had,” he said. “But behind the scenes the board and committee are accessing revenue streams and raising money that wasn’t there before.
“For the playing budget nothing has changed – it’s still being done on a shoestring.
“But we’re hoping to raise more revenue by being more active in the community and getting the community to support us.”
New streams of income
To increase revenue Fort William have been seeking player sponsors and have also started a club lottery.
Trew said: “It all makes a difference and it all adds up. We’re getting player sponsors again.
“When was the last time that was done at the club?
— Fort William FC (@FortWilliamFC) December 30, 2021
“If we had our home games, we’d have a healthy budget to compete.
“Hopefully next year if we stay up and we’re back at home then it should be a lot more competitive.
“Then we can also bolster the youth set-up with the extra revenue to start bringing more locals through.”