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Last Updated: Monday, 11 June 2007, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Heathcote joy at Robins reprieve
By Pete Oliver

Altrincham
Altrincham manager Graham Heathcote was delighted after his side were reinstated into the Blue Square Premier at the expense of Boston.

Altrincham were spared relegation from what was the Conference top-flight when Boston were demoted from the Football League to the Blue Square North.

"We have had a reprieve, we are in it and we have to move on and organise for being in it," Heathcote told BBC Sport.

"I am delighted as a club and we have to take this opportunity."

Altrincham were also saved from relegation on a technicality last season, although they could claim to have done enough on the field to have sustained their status.

The Cheshire club were docked 18 points in 2005/06 for fielding an ineligible player but, unlike AFC Wimbledon in the season just finished, were unable to reduce that penalty on appeal.

As a result they finished bottom of the table but stayed up when Canvey Island pulled out of the league and Scarborough, like Boston this time around, were kicked out at the Conference AGM for breaching league rules over entry into administration.

We were a bottom four side so we will have to look to improve

Graham Heathcote

But Heathcote admitted he did have sympathy for Boston.

"My first thoughts were for the Boston fans," he said. "They are the ones that suffer and I feel sorry for them.

"Our joy is tempered with sadness for Boston and the people there that I know. Having been through difficult situations ourselves I know what they are going through."

After six weeks of planning for life in Blue Square North, Heathcote must now readjust his sights to produce a team capable of finishing better than fourth from bottom in the premier.

He is not starting from scratch, though, with all bar defender Peter Band, who has joined Hyde United, accepting offers from Heathcote to remain at Moss Lane.

"The pleasing thing to me has been the loyalty of the players. For them to say they are staying is fantastic," said the Robins boss.

However, Heathcote knows he also needs to add some extra quality to his squad to make the most of the chance Altrincham have been given and ensure their own premier position in 2007/08.

"We have to readdress it now and improve on last year. I think 51 points was quite a good achievement but it was still not good enough," he added.

"We were a bottom four side so we will have to look to improve, although at this level it is difficult. There are a lot of finances involved, which make it difficult to compete.

"The same problems still exist. If people think it will be any easier they will be wrong."

SEE ALSO
Boston suffer new demotion blow
10 Jun 07 |  Boston United
League closes 10-point loophole
09 Jun 07 |  Football
Heathcote resignation is rejected
03 May 07 |  Altrincham
Altrincham chairman will stay on
30 Apr 07 |  Altrincham
Heathcote "gutted" by relegation
29 Apr 07 |  Altrincham


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