THORNBURY Town FC’s promotion chances look better than ever with the approval of upgrades to their first team pitch.

The team, which is currently nine points clear atop the Gloucestershire County Football League, has aspired for the past couple of seasons to earn a place in the Western League.

But in order to gain promotion, work had to be done off the pitch as well as on it, with mandatory improvements to their ground on the Mundy Playing Fields needing to take place before they can be considered.

The new-look pitch would see the erection of a 100-seater stand for spectators and six 15-metre-high floodlights, as well as a path along three sides of the pitch, a two-metre-high fence and a shed to act as a turnstile and ticket booth.

Having watched the opportunity pass them by last season after the club were told a bat survey would delay a planning decision, promotion chances were again under threat this year following the realisation of a large strategic gas main under the pitch that could potentially change the intended locations of the floodlights and stand.

Thankfully, however, everything has come together, with South Gloucestershire Council approving the planning application last Thursday, and the club laying the path and installing a temporary stand and fencing to demonstrate to the league where the permanent structures would go for an inspection on Saturday.

Club vice-chairman Toni Watola said: “It feels like forever but we have got there in the end.

“It’s a great weight off our shoulders. Obtaining the planning permission has revolved around a small number of the committee so we felt a certain weight to get this through, so having done it we feel relief.

“The hard part was getting it past the planners, so having got that far, happy days!”

With the total work expected to cost around £130,000, the club now have to wait out the rest of the season to learn if they will get promoted before they complete the work.

But while the team look to be in good stead for promotion, with eight games to go, Mr Watola said that they would be taking it a match at a time.

“We have seen clubs before where there is a level of confidence and the team suddenly has a bad spell,” he said, “so I am not counting any of my chickens before they hatch.

“Whereas 12 months ago we had the chance to win the league but were struggling with planning, now we have got the planning done and it is down to the team to perform.

“If we win the league then we are set fair to do the works ready for September.

“All we ask is that as many people come and cheer the lads on for the last few games for the season. It would be great for them to have the town behind them and have that opportunity to test themselves at a higher level.”