FOR Bury Town to continue progressing up the football pyramid, it is critical they are able to move into their proposed new home on Moreton Hall.
Plans for the community football scheme — which would benefit football throughout Bury, not just the Blues — are set to go before St Edmundsbury Borough Council once again in the coming weeks, having already suffered a couple of knockbacks.
However, one of the most crucial aspects of it from the Blues’ point of view is that is would be up to standard for Bury to be able to play in the Conference North or South league.
In last week’s Free Press, Ward said it would cost in the region of £50,000 to spruce up Bury’s current home for the same standard of football — a wasted pot of gold should a move be just around the corner.
He added: “If, for any reason, the move to the new ground was put on hold and took a lot longer, the cost of all the work to take Ram Meadow up to standard would be horrendous and we would have to look at our ambitions alongside that.
“At the moment we are hoping the plan goes through. If we can get planning permission, get it built and get promotion, it would all tie into the move perfectly.
“If the move didn’t happen, we would have to rethink that because I would be very uneasy about spending large sums of money on Ram Meadow with the view to it being basically wasted.
“Football-wise, we do want promotion. We think we can play at a higher level having had the experience of playing against teams from the Blue Square leagues in the FA Cup and doing quite well against them.
“But it has to be done under the right financial strategy and with the ground as well.”
In those right circumstances, Ward has no doubt Bury can sustain Conference North or South football in the future.
While the Conference Premier — the final step before the Football League — remains a long-term goal, it is something that will only be considered seriously once the new ground is ready and the team has proved itself capable of holding their own in the division below.
“As much as we love Ram Meadow as our home, and it will be a real wrench to leave there, it is outdated,” added Ward, of the Blues’ current home. “Either a lot of money needs to be spent on it, or we need to move somewhere else.
“The new plans are exciting, it’s a shame there has been a few stumbling blocks, but I believe we are now getting close to getting it all sorted.”
As well as progression on the field and with the new ground, Ward said Bury will continue to work hard to develop links with other football teams in the town — particularly youth football sides.
“When I took over as chairman, we had no affiliation with Bury Town Youth,” said Ward. “They used to be called St Edmundsbury Youth and even when they changed their name to Bury Town Youth there was no real link as such.
“Obviously we have tried to get the two working closer together, which culminated last year in them becoming part of us and the whole club receiving FA Charter Standard.
“I have now taken over as chairman of Bury Town Youth as well, so we will be looking to integrate them even more, and then push on and forge links with other youth sections.
“We will be on Moreton Hall’s patch when we move up there, so we will be looking to forge closer links with them and there are quite a few smaller youth clubs and even individual teams that are set up.
“It’s important to us to forge links with them as well and make sure they feel part of the whole football community in Bury St Edmunds.”