As John Coleman celebrates his 11th anniverary in charge of the Reds tomorrow, he has started putting plans together for League Two next season.
The manager, who came to Stanley on May 15 1999, is set to operate again on one of the smallest budgets in the Football League as the club seek to get the finances totally stable behind the scenes after the club almost folded last season.
Ilyas Khan, who is due to step down as chairman, President Peter Marsden, general manager Dave O’Neill and chief executive Rob Heys are set to sit down and finalise Coleman’s budget next week but O’Neill earlier said it will be similar to what it was last season - believed to be around £10,000 a week.
And Heys confirmed it: "We will be operating on a similar budget to last season although, if things happen pre-season or during the season to boost it, then we will have another look at it."
The Reds have had a lift, though, with the increased money from the Premier League - it goes up to £218,000 from £72,000 after a deal was agreed this week.
And Coleman has already offered contracts to two of his Under 23 players - Dean Winnard and Bobby Grant. Winnard is keen to sign and the club believe they are close to agreeing a deal with 18-goal striker Grant.
"We are optimistic that Bobby will sign," said Heys. "We are still waiting to hear but hopefully it will go through."
Coleman is set to talk to the rest of his players on Monday as, with only four players under contract, it means there will be a lot of negotiating with those out of contract as he looks to form his squad for the new season.
Captain Andy Procter, Player of the Year Phil Edwards, Chris Turner and Jimmy Ryan all have one year left of their current contracts. Out-of-contract 19-goal striker Michael Symes is said to be arousing interest from Scunthorpe and Rochdale - and, with Dale frontman Chris Dagnall linked elsewhere, Keith Hill could swoop for Symes.
Defender Darran Kempson is also said to be courted by a couple of clubs in League Two and the Blue Square Premier League.
And nine-goal loan striker Billy Kee is in negotiations with parent club Leicester but it’s thought other clubs, as well as Accrington, are chasing his services on loan next season.
The Reds finished their current campaign in 15th place on Saturday - Coleman continuing his record of improving Stanley’s league position in every one of his 11 years.
But he admitted it is tinged with disappointment with the Reds battling for the top seven spot for so long.
He said: "It is disappointing at the end but, when you reflect on it from a logical point of view, you have got to be pleased with what you achieved.
"If you think what we had to contend with during the season - the threat of the club going out of business, the fans rallying round, Ilyas Khan coming in and then thankfully taking the threat away. Then the players went through spells of not getting paid or paid late and to come through that and do so well on the pitch, means it was even more disappointing to fall at the final hurdle.
"We were every bookmakers favourite to go down at the start of the season and we have proved them wrong and I don’t think they will make the same mistake next season.
"But we are not just happy being an also-ran, we are one of the best seven sides in the league - any team that you speak to will tell you that - but, for some reason, for the nine games at the end where we picked up just one point, it didn’t materialise."
He added: "We will only know if we learnt from this season next season but we are going into the next campaign knowing teams will probably be more wary of us.
"Our players, though, have higher expectations of themselves which is something we tried to develop earlier on in the season and I think we have managed to achieve it."
He admits he has a number of targets in mind to boost his squad for the new campaign.
"Looking at players is an ongoing process and I won’t leave it until the last minute. You are always looking at strengthening your side. I don’t want to know my strongest side at the start of the season as it means you have a weak squad.
"Decisions have been made in my head about who is staying and going but I will speak to the players."
EX-Reds goalkeeper Kenny Arthur is on the transfer list at Rochdale. The stopper suffered with a back injury through Dale’s promotion-winning season and was on the bench for the latter part. He has one-year left on his contract but is on the hunt for regular first team football.
STANLEY are set to spend £50,000 on the pitch and are also looking at installing a sprinkler system after problems with the pitch and a number of postponements last season.
THE Reds were due to talk to Burnley this week about the Clarets reserves playing at the Crown Ground again next season and were also set to discuss a pre-season friendly. The Reds are aready going on a tour of Devon from 19-25 July playing in the Joma South West Challenge.
PAUL Mullin is looking to make it an ex-Stanley players hat-trick at Wembley. Lee McEvilly scored for Barrow in the FA¿Trophy final win at Wembley last Saturday; Brett Ormerod is due to play there with Blackpool as they look to make it into the Premiership while Mullin’s Morecambe face Dagenham on Sunday in the first leg of the play-off semi-final. The return leg is Thursday at Christie Park.