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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 March 2007, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Spread the news on new York City
By Pete Oliver

York City
The new look York City have come a long way in a short space of time.

After facing the threat of closure and dropping out of the Football League in 2004, the Minstermen are climbing back and challenging to regain their League status.

"It's changed massively," City's managing director Jason McGill told BBC Sport.

"When Billy McEwan took over I think we were 17th in the league and we were under pressure.

"We could have gone down into the next league and I think Conference North would have been a pivotal moment in the history of York City.

I think we learned a lot in that year as a board of directors

Trust chairman Jason McGill

"With Billy coming in and getting it right on the pitch for the last two years we've concentrated on trying to help off the pitch."

York last won promotion in 1993 and for six years played at League One level. City were seemingly the epitome of a well-run lower league club which enjoyed its moments of glory in the cup competitions.

That changed, though, when the board decided to sell both the club and the ground, which were no longer owned together, with the threat of withdrawing the team from the League.

An ill-fated takeover by racing car enthusiast John Batchelor did little to ease the crisis and against a growing back-drop of financial difficulties, supporters formed a Trust which acquired the football business in March, 2003.

Unfortunately for them, their first season in control led to relegation to the Conference.

"It was a very emotional time. We had just taken over and we felt like the world was on our shoulders. I think we learned a lot in that year as a board of directors," said McGill.

York boss Billy McEwan
McEwan has transformed Yokr's fortunes on the pitch.

Things did not get better quickly as York struggled in the Conference, while the Trust battled to raise the money needed to buy the ground.

A loan of 2 million from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund secured the purchase of Bootham Crescent but with annual interest payment of 100,000 to be met, along with 50,000 in maintenance bills for a 75-year-old ground, the problem has not gone away.

"Before putting any budgets together, we know we have got 150,000 to find to start with. The key to unlock this is the new stadium. That is fundamental to us going forward," said McGill.

A number of potential sites within the city are currently being examined with a possible move around 2012.

We are the largest city in the country that doesn't have a League club

Trust chairman Jason McGill

McGill is a lifelong supporter whose family firm tooke a 75 per cent stake in the club and whose sister and father also serve on the board.

McEwan's appointment was also crucial, with the former Sheffield United, Rotherham and Darlington manager transforming City's playing fortunes.

Last year in his first full season in charge York just missed out on the play-offs. This time they look a good bet to finish in a top-five place.

McGill believes dropping into the Conference and losing the Football League pay-outs has helped galvanise City and focus their minds on what they want to achieve.

He said: "I think we are the largest city in the country that doesn't have a League club and I think the football club is ready to go up," said McGill.

"I think if you look at the other clubs that have been in this position before, being in the Conference has been a salutory lesson.

"I think they have cut their cloth accordingly, put the proper footballing principles in place and the teams that have been in the Conference and have been promoted have tended, more often than not, to go up the League and go from strength to strength."

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