A town football club has been studied by the FA’s chief executive Martin Glenn as a “model club” that others can learn from.
Harborough Town FC, whose base is off Northampton Road, Market Harborough, is a self-sustaining but not-for-profit club, with deep roots in the community, Mr Glenn says.
Harborough Town’s chairman Laurence Jones, also an FA official, told the Mail: “It’s very kind of him to single us out, and I guess it’s a reflection of what we’re trying to build here, which is a grass roots football hub.”
The club, a charity, has established itself as a vital sport facility, catering for 800 to 1,000 footballers at all levels every week.
Harborough Town’s top team is in the United Counties League Premier Division, at tier nine in the football league ladder.
But the club’s strength is in its massive community reach, with teams from five-years-old to walking teams for senior players.
“We’re trying to build a very robust community football club, and provide a football experience for anyone who wants it” said Laurence Jones.
“We very much want to offer recreational and elite player experiences.
“And we want the town to really back us and support us.”
Harborough Town has 11 grass pitches and two artificial pitches and hosts 47 of their own teams and a further five more clubs and three football academies.
Key partners include Harborough District Council, and Brook House College in the town.
“We want to be more than a football club, we want to be a community asset” said Mr Jones. “A focal point for Market Harborough.
“The FA wants to create these sort of “club hubs” around the country.
“Football is our national sport, the heartbeat of any community, and helps put the community and the town on the map.
“It’s also about health agendas and social responsibility as well.”
Mr Jones said he hoped the club’s elite side could make the Northern Premier League, at tier seven. The league covers all northern England and the north and central Midlands.
“But to do that you need a lot of luck and a lot of dosh, so you have to be very realistic, while wanting to achieve more. What’s really important to us is to provide a football experience for everyone who wants it, whether recreational or elite.”