Gateshead to go full-time in 2010
Gateshead Football Club has today announced that it will switch to a full time club with a professional squad from the beginning of the 2010-11 campaign.
A handful of places in a proposed 24 man squad will be reserved for part-time players, but the vast majority of players will be employed on a full time basis.
It is another ambitious move from a club determined to build on back-to-back promotions and eventually reclaim it's place in the Football League.
Turning professional next year will also be poignant as it will mark the 50th anniversary since Gateshead were unjustly demoted from the Football League in 1960.
Gateshead will now stand proudly alongside the regions other professional clubs; Newcastle United, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Darlington and Hartlepool United as they strive to regain League status.
Chairman Graham Wood said: "There are a lot of benefits from becoming a full time club, not least being able to attract players who are already in, and want to stay in, the professional game.
"If we want to take the club to the next level and achieve our goal of taking Gateshead back into the Football League it is a natural progression to become a professional club."
Gateshead-born Wood has revealed that the club will make the switch to full time status even if they are relegated back to the Conference North this season.
"We are not thinking along those lines because I am confident Gateshead will still be in the Blue Square Premier next season, but if we do go down it will not affect our plans," added Wood.
Manager Ian Bogie has also backed the idea of Gateshead becoming a professional club like the vast majority of their rivals in the Blue Square Premier.
"We need to go full time to progress otherwise we will stand still, but first and foremost we have to stay in the Blue Square Premier," said Bogie.
"The aim is to push on and being able to train every day instead of after a days work is obviously beneficial in terms of fitness, skill acquisition and preparation.
"It will enable us to compete on a level playing field and it shows how ambitious Gateshead are to switch from a part-time club to a full time outfit."
Gateshead have not had a professional club for half a century when their 30 year membership of the Football League ended in 1960 when they failed to be re-elected despite finishing above Oldham Athletic and Hartlepool United in the 4th division.