Southport can move forward - chairman Charlie Clapham

Charlie Clapham
Clapham has been chairman at Haig Avenue since 1983

Southport chairman Charlie Clapham says the club can now prepare for next season after their reprieve to stay in the Blue Square Premier next season.

Despite relegation from the division, financial difficulties at Rushden & Diamonds means they are expelled, allowing Southport to remain.

"We've really been biding our time," Clapham told BBC Radio Merseyside.

"We do need to bring in a number of players to ensure we're in good shape for the start of the season."

He added: "We have got a list of players and I'm sure in Liam Watson's [Southport manager] mind he will have been preparing for either scenario."

Southport ended last season fourth from bottom in the Blue Square Premier, and struggled in the first half of the season, with just four wins from their opening 22 games.

The Sandgrounders chairman says the league is far stronger than he remembers and he hopes the club have learned from last year's mistakes.

"It certainly won't get any easier that is for sure," Clapham continued.

"The league has strengthened over the last five years in particular, since the introduction of two relegated clubs [from the Football League].

"That has coincided with the dramatic improvement in the quality of teams. When you've got, for example: Darlington, Grimsby, Wrexham and Luton coming down, it does mean it's a very strong league.

"We would be entitled to say during the course of last season we didn't underestimate it, but we were going into a league that had changed since we left it only a year or so before.

"It will not surprise us this year, we certainly know what we're going into and we know what to do to compete. I know Liam's more determined than ever to to be doing that."