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Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Friday, 11 June 2010 12:52 UK

Bath City begin countdown to the big time

Adie Britton
Adie Britton (right) celebrates with assistant manager Lee Howells

The Champagne corks had barely stopped popping at the Bath City promotion party before manager Adie Britton was down to the more sober business of preparing for life in non-league football's top flight.

A 1-0 play-off final victory over Woking was the final act of a long, hard season in Blue Square South, clinching Britton's Bath side a precious place in the Blue Square Bet Premier for 2010/11.

And Britton, manager at Twerton Park for just 19 months, knew next season's planning needed to start as soon as possible.

"I think it began at around 9am on the morning after we beat Woking," he told BBC Radio Bristol.

"It's now sunk in, we realise what we've done and there's a hard few weeks ahead of us.

"In truth, throughout the season, we always thought we were going to be competitive and we thought we had a chance of getting into the play-offs but we didn't really think that this was the year we were going to get promoted.

"It was only late on that we went into such a fantastic run when we just had that feeling that we weren't going to be beaten. We felt almost invincible."

The core of the squad that gave the Bath faithful plenty to shout about in that thrilling finale remain to take on the likes of Luton Town and Wrexham, but Britton has already begun team strengthening.

Former Team Bath midfielder Marc Canham has signed from Hayes & Yeading, while versatile defender Danny Webb - 26-year-old son of former Chelsea star Dave Webb - has been recruited from Salisbury City.

"I'm talking to three or four more players and I would hope more deals may happen before we start training again on 29 June.

"Players that a year ago I thought would never come to Bath City have phoned me. We're looking for better players and I just hope that, within the budget I have, I'll be able to improve it.

It's where we want to be; it's where the players want to be. A number of them have been at league clubs before but since then they've been underachieving

Bath City manager Adie Britton

"I think the supporters can rest assured that, if nothing else, the squad will be stronger. Given our financial restraints, I don't think we can do more than that."

And it is the 'f word' - finance - that will constantly be on Britton's lips in the coming campaign.

Given the likely constraints, Britton is happy to accept that finishing 20th would be a highly satisfactory result come May 2011.

"Next year is about surviving - if we can get a cup run along the way that would be fantastic. That's the public line but, within the four walls of the dressing room, there will be other targets."

Unlike the majority of their rivals, Bath will remain a part-time outfit next season, a situation that presents its own problems with fitness and focus.

But Britton accepts it is something he has to live with. "Given that it's probably the lowest budget in the league - and by some way - you have to be realistic," he says.

"The most important thing is the club's long-term future. We won't put that in jeopardy."

Chairman Geoff Todd has already offered to step aside if a benefactor can be found to boost the coffers, while talks are taking place with Bath Rugby over a possible groundsharing scheme at the Rec.

"The plan for Bath City isn't to stand still," says Britton. "We look at our neighbours down the road at Yeovil and Cheltenham and see what they've done. Bath has 100,000 people in the area so why can't we be a Football League club in five years?"

"This is where we want to be; it's where the players want to be. A number of them have been at league clubs before but since then they've been underachieving.

"This is an opportunity they're looking forward to immensely.

"We're not going to be massive competitors with the likes of Luton and Wrexham, but we are in the same league - and that's a start."

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