IT'S DECISION TIME this week for Accrington Stanley's out of contract players.
Chairman Eric Whalley wants all those offered new deals on Sunday to make up their minds now or run the risk of losing their deals.
Goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin, defenders Robbie Williams and Phil Edwards have all agreed new one-year contracts while striker Leighton McGivern has got a deal until Christmas.
Defenders Michael Welch and Mauro Almeida and winger Sean Doherty have all been released while the future is up in the air for right back Danny Ventre.
The rest of the current squad, though, have been offered new deals and Whalley wants swift decisions from them and says the club will not be held to ransom, with the threat of players keeping the club waiting while looking for better deals from other clubs.
"They have got to make up their minds quickly," said the chairman, with Stanley finishing in 20th place in League Two. "Then we know who we have got to bring in.
"We want to know where we stand so the deals are there - but they either take them or not but we won't be negotiating better deals.
"At the end of the day, with these players, we finished fifth from bottom of the table and so to expect an improved deal is wrong.
"Three players have agreed one-year deals and Leighton has a six month contract because of his injury situation and he has a chance to prove himself.
"And we will at least be bringing eight or nine new players in - if not more.
"If you think about it we had a squad of 21 players. We lost Godwin Antwi and David Martin, who were on loan, as they have gone back to Liverpool, released three and that looks likely to become four or five.
"That only leaves us with around 14 or 15 players and we will probably lose more who won't accept the new deals.
"We have got to get the numbers back up and the whole squad does need a revamp. We need to hold our own and push on in League Two and so we need to bring better players in to do that.
"I don't want us to be in a relegation battle again next season - I cannot go through that again."
Four players have ongoing contracts - Paul Mullin, Shaun Whalley, Rommy Boco and Tony Grant.
But the chairman confirmed that they are hoping to come to an agreement to end Grant's contract this week.
The former Burnley midfielder signed an 18 month deal in January with a view to a coaching role at the club next season.
However he has only played a couple of games, fell out of favour and has struggled with an Achilles injury and the club are currently in negotiations with his agent to terminate the contract.
"It is just one of those things which hasn't worked out. He has been injured and had a bit of a spat with the management team and it is probably for the best for everybody if he finds another club," said the chairman. "He has 14 months left on his contract and it is to nobodies benefit if he stays here so I expect a parting of ways."
He also confirmed the club are chasing a foreign striker with boss John Coleman also saying he had his sights set on making two new signings in the near future.
"I have spoke to two players already and am hoping to have at least two signings by next week for the new season," said the manager. "That hopefully will be the start of seven or eight.
"I also want Godwin and David back but that is up to Liverpool. I have been delighted with their attitude and commitment.
"They have been so professional since they came here, never turned their nose up at anything and they have great personalities and have been a great asset to our side."
Clubs are now beginning to release players with one-time Stanley target, defender John McCombe, released by Huddersfield Town and there are rumours linking Burnley's Graham Branch with a short move to Accrington.
Meanwhile, off the field, the chairman is hoping to sort out training facilities for the club this summer.
They have struggled having a base in Barnoldswick this season and Whalley lost out in his bid to be a part owner of Ribchester-based wine bar and restaurant The DeTabley and use the surroundings there as a training ground so he is now looking closer to home.
And he is pleased with the current improvements going on at the Fraser Eagle Stadium.
"We have now finished levelling the pitch and we have got an irrigation system in place so we will have to see how that works. The work has cost six figures so I hope it is better than Wembley!" he said,
There will also be developments on the Whinney Hill Stand.
"We have to build a new stand by the 2007/8 season as part of the Football League regulations," continued the chairman.
"We have had the plans drawn up and the drawings have been passed. There are 990 seats - we have to have 800 more seats according to the rules - and it will cost £500,000. We have a time scale to start and we will be looking to get underway soon."
The chairman also confirmed they are expecting to start work on the Clayton End roof by next season as soon as they get the go ahead from the county council and when the funding is in place.
Meanwhile, the Stanley chairman is backing Morecambe to win the Conference play-off final against Exeter at Wembley on May 20 and face the Reds in League Two next season.
"Obviously I have connections with them and I think most people around here will want them to win," said Whalley, who managed the Shrimps in 1988. "It will guarantee a good local derby next season and I wish them luck."
While Morecambe or Exeter could be in the pot when the fixtures are out on June 14, the Stanley fans will definitely get the chance to visit Chesterfield, Bradford City, Rotherham and Brentford this season - relegated from League One - as well as a familiar haunt in the form of Conference champions Dagenham.
- ROMMY Boco is currently on international duty with Benin in Canada.
- STANLEY lost on penalties to Bolton at Clitheroe in the semi-final of the Lancashire Senior Senior Cup on Monday. Leighton McGivern scored as the game finished 1-1 and Danny Ventre and Peter Cavanagh missed penalties.