Banbridge Town FC is to launch a new strand to the club - Banbridge Town Youth FC - as early as next season.
They had been involved in discussions with Banbridge Town Juniors in the hope of linking the two clubs but, with those talks unsuccessful, the senior club have opted to start their own youth set-up as part of their preparations for gaining a Championship License.
“We plan to have teams at all age groups from six to 18 and to provide the best coaching personnel and resources possible,” said club chairman Stephen Radcliffe.
“I will be in contact with local League Chairpersons to discuss the possibility of entering teams into their Leagues for the new season.
“My vision for Banbridge Town FC has always been that of a community club, a hub for players of all ages, regardless of colour, creed, gender or religion, with teams at all age groups from age 6 to 18.
“Also high on my agenda is a Ladies club, all based at Crystal Park. Football for all.”
Town had originally hoped to link with Banbridge Town Ladies and the Juniors to become three independently run clubs under the overall umbrella of Banbridge Town.
“A number of people have worked hard over the past number of years to try to make this happen,” said Radcliffe.
“Although on a few occasions I thought we were close to agreement unfortunately, despite our best endeavours, we just couldn’t get a deal over the line with the Juniors.
“We are currently still in discussions with Ladies Chairman Paul Cull, and I would hope we can finalise an agreement with the Ladies Club in the near future.”
Radcliffe was keen to stress that the new Town Youth FC would not be used to generate income for the club’s senior side.
“Whilst BTYFC will be a fully integrated part of the main Club it will be an entirely self-sufficient,” he said.
“Each family with a child involved will have a vote in how BTYFC is run, and as such the youth set-up will have its own sub-committee reporting to the Senior committee.
“The Ladies Club will have the same structure in place. I cannot emphasise strongly enough that the Senior Club will not be drawing on either the Ladies or the junior wing’s funds.
“This will take time to develop; it’s a five to seven year plan but we are committed to making this a success.”