Players returning to Prestatyn Town are driven by passion not pounds, insists manager Neil Gibson.
The Seasiders boss was responding to claims that an “open budget” is on the table to deliver the Championship North title next season – and a subsequent return to the Welsh Premier League.
Gibson has already re-signed Michael Parker, Kai Edwards, Rob Hughes, Jack Kenny, Zyaac Edwards, Zebb Edwards and Jordan Davies this month – all players who have represented Town, as well as other teams, in the WPL.
“I think it’s a slight on the players that have come back to suggest there must be endless money here to attract them,” said the Seasiders chief.
“These players feel a loyalty and connection with the club and want to help get us back to the Welsh Premier.
“We’ve always punched above our weight and achieved things on smaller budgets than many other clubs.
“Even the likes of Andy Parkinson and Jason Price (of the 2012-13 Welsh Cup winning side) were here on ‘mates rates’. They could have played for much higher money elsewhere.
“There is no bottomless pit of money here; I’d say we have a competitive budget, but I’d be surprised if we were in the top three budgets in this league.”
With the majority of last season’s squad re-signed, Gibson revealed he may not have finished recruiting yet, with talks ongoing with a wide attacker and defender.
“I’m more than happy with how the squad is shaping up,” added the former Tranmere Rovers midfielder.
“Anyone else coming in will have to fit into the criteria of the club, which means being fairly local and knowing what Prestatyn Town is all about – and possibly having worked with me before.
“Players are still interesting us, but we’re hoping to put a cap on it by June 22. I’d ideally like to have everyone in place by day one. If we don’t bring anyone else in, I’m more than satisfied the squad we already have can be challenging next season.”
Gibson won the Welsh Alliance League title as a Prestatyn player in 2005/06 and took over as manager the following season.
Town were crowned Cymru Alliance champions in 2007/08 and went on to spend seven seasons in the Welsh Premier.
During that spell the club lifted the Welsh Cup for the first time in its history, played and won in Europe, and landed the NWCFA Challenge Cup.
The Seasiders scooped the Cymru Alliance title for a second time under Gibson in 2016-17, but were relegated from the WPL 12 months later.
Gibson had already left Bastion Gardens in January 2018 to become first-team coach at Connah’s Quay Nomads, helping lead the Deesiders to Welsh Cup glory.
In October 2018, however, the ex-Wales Under-21 player decided it was time to return to Prestatyn, with the team struggling badly near the bottom of the Huws Gray Alliance.
The mission for the rest of the season was to avoid relegation and that was comfortably achieved, Town finally ending up mid-table.
“I had a specific job to do and that was to get safe quickly,” said the manager. “There were a lot of players I’d never worked with before, but we worked hard and achieved what we set out to do.”
Gibson was asked did the old saying “never go back” enter his mind when he walked through the gates of the Motion Finance Stadium again.
“There is that saying, but there’s another saying ‘go big or go home’,” he replied.
“This will be about the fourth rebuild in my time at the club, but the freshness and motivation remains through the challenges ahead and the aim of bringing more of the success Prestatyn have enjoyed in the past.
“A lot of the players who have come back have had offers to play for higher clubs for bigger money, but there is a lot of hunger still there to bring more success at Prestatyn.”
While the target last season was consolidation, Gibson stressed sights will be set much higher in 2019-20.
“We’ll be aiming for a drastic improvement on last season.
“I’ll be setting some serious targets and if we are not competing at the top come the end of the season it will be very disappointing.
“We know what it takes to win this league (Championship North) and we want to be back in the Welsh Premier as soon as possible.
“After spending seven seasons in the top league you can almost start to take it for granted and have a tendency to see it as the norm, but Prestatyn are a small club and understand we’re going to have to give it everything to get back there again.”