Phil's message to fans: We can reach the Football League - hand on heart, I believe it

Report by John Edwards, Picture by Jonathan Moore.

The hope was for something uplifting, and Altrincham supporters could hardly have wished for anything more positive than the message Phil Parkinson delivered in a Q&A session that covered a wide range of topics on Tuesday evening.

The Alty boss set minds at rest by echoing football director Rob Esteva's recent update on potential new signings and confirming that the recruitment process for next season is already well underway.

If that provided welcome reassurance for Alty fans fretting over a quiet last few weeks on the transfer front, it was followed by a forecast that will have sent spirits soaring still higher.

Phil Parknson

Phil was in the midst of assessing a successful transition from part-time to full-time status over the past 12 months when he had this to say:

"I honestly truly believe we will be in the Football League in my time as Altrincham manager. Hand on heart, I believe that."

He added that the infrastructure had to be right for the dream to become a reality, but there was a major announcement on that front as well, with Co-Chairman Lawrence Looney revealing that the club were on the brink of appointing their first-ever Chief Executive Officer.

Bringing fans bang up to date with an exciting off-field development, Lawrence said: "We tried to bring in a Chief Executive last summer, but it didn't go according to plan. By the end of last season, we decided we really did need a CEO to bring all parts of the club together, and we have budgeted for it.

"We have been through a rigorous process, starting with about 100 applicants and whittling it down to 19, all of whom were interviewed. It then became a shortlist of six, and we are now very close to hiring someone.

"It is a big milestone for us, and we are looking forward to changing the structure of the club and becoming more professional in how we do things off the field."

Questions posed by supporters were put to the likes of Phil, Lawrence, Rob, Bill Waterson, Neil Faulkner and John Coyne, with Phil opening up on the strides made on the field and why he believes there is more to come under his leadership, alongside Neil Sorvel.

"Recruitment isn't a problem," he declared. "It has been a big strength of ours, and we will continue putting the work and hours in to ensure it stays that way. Trust us - every season, we keep churning out players who will get us higher up the table, and we will keep doing that.

"We have already started the recruitment process for next season, and announcements will be made as and when we can. That is all in hand.

"When I look at what is happening on and off the field at our club, it tells me this is a really good time to be an Alty fan. There will be ups and downs, but we are going to entertain you, and there is so much to be positive about.

"Every season is one of progression, which is so important. We are heading in the right direction, so enjoy the ride we are on. I really hand on heart believe we will reach the Football League in my time as manager of Altrincham. I honestly truly believe that.

"Managing in the Football League has to be the aspiration for me. If I didn't believe I could do it here, I'd be at Notts County now. But I believe in the process here, and I am not unappreciative of how it has helped me grow.

"For me, it was about can we achieve something special at Altrincham? That means the Football League. I want to be a Football League manager, and I believe we can do it here. I hope it gives you all a sense of pride that you now have a full-time professional club to support. We did it for a purpose - not to stay where we are, but to strive to become a Football League club.

"We are about to appoint a CEO - a chief executive at Altrincham, amazing. It's a really exciting time. I can't explain to you, honestly... get your season tickets and I promise we won't let you down."

There were also answers from Phil on how he plans to reduce the number of goals conceded from set-pieces and from the board on various ground improvements that are being worked on.

It was a riveting listen over the course of 90 minutes, and if you missed out on it first time round, you can tune in to all the questions and all the answers by watching the full event below.

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