Leigh Pomlett still has Championship aim for Walsall

Walsall chairman Leigh Pomlett has reaffirmed his desire for them to become a ‘sustainable’ Championship club in the future – even if it meant stepping away.

Walsall boss Matt Taylor and chairman Leigh Pomlett
Walsall boss Matt Taylor and chairman Leigh Pomlett

Pomlett has spoken previously of his plan to get the Saddlers, who start the new League Two season at Tranmere this weekend, into the second tier.

A busy day for the club saw them hold an open training session at the Banks’s Stadium, sign Tyrese Shade on loan from Leicester and then hold a Q&A with supporters.

And Pomlett – who says Walsall are in a good financial state despite the difficulties brought on by Covid – still has those ambitions.

“I want us to prepare to be a Championship club, so that means we have to be a challenging League One club,” said Pomlett during the Q&A.

“But when it comes to getting to the challenge of a Championship club, that’s going to require new investment into the club.

“I, along with Stefan (Gamble, chief executive), look for some new investment to come in, this year or next year, to sit alongside what I do and take us to the next level.

“I don’t want us to be a struggling club. I want us to build and have the Championship potential – a sustainable club in the Championship.

“It may well be that then I wouldn’t be your chairman because you’re talking about something vastly bigger than what we’ve got now.

“If that means me not being the chairman of Walsall, to get it into the Championship, then I’m off.

“As much as I still love this football club and have been coming here since the age of five, if I felt I was standing in the way of progress to the Championship I’d move aside. But I will get you back into League One.”

Matt Taylor looks on during Walsall’s open training session at the Banks’s Stadium

For the here and now, Pomlett believes Walsall have created an ‘extremely good football environment’ and are an attractive club for players after the appointment of Matt Taylor as head coach.

Young forward Shade – snapped up for the season from the Foxes – is the Saddlers’ 12th summer signing, with technical director Jamie Fullarton having worked on the deal for several weeks.

Pomlett also hopes to attract more supporters to the Banks’s and has been enthused by season ticket uptake while the club have requested an additional 900 tickets for the Tranmere game, having already sold more than 1,000.

“It’s a thing I think about a lot. The football club sits among some very big and powerful neighbours, all within kicking distance,” he said.

“We have a lot of work to do on that side of things in terms attracting more of the ethnic minorities that Walsall represents.

“And the other thing is that I have no doubt whatsoever that if this club is a challenging League One side, we’ll fill the stadium.

“It comes from being successful and playing attractive football.We have to take on the other clubs around us with something unique.

“If you’re 19th in League Two, you won’t come and watch as much as you should. So, that’s where my focus has been.

“We can’t be Villa, not in my lifetime, but we can be bigger than Walsall is now.”

Wrapping up the Q&A, Pomlett added: “Thanks for sticking with the club. We’ve delivered more off the field than on it, so it’s about time we changed that.

“With the changes we’ve made I expect that to be the case.

“I’m looking forward to this season more than any other in recent memory.”

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