Accrington Stanley: Owner Andy Holt on club's ascent to League One

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Andy Holt: Accrington Stanley owner on club's role in local community

"I talked to my accountants, my wife and family and every one of them said 'don't do it'."

But Andy Holt did do it. In 2015, the businessman bought then League Two side Accrington Stanley and has since presided over the most successful spell in the club's history.

After taking a controlling stake in the famous old club, Holt cleared £1.2m of debt as well as providing £600,000 of extra funds.

Three years later, Stanley achieved promotion to English football's third tier for the first time.

"On my first visit to Stanley I was having a pint and the pump ran out. When I asked why they had run out of beer they said 'because we haven't paid the bills'," Holt told BBC Inside Out.

"It was like a desert in there, everything had gone. They were in a really tough situation so that was the challenge and I didn't realise what I was getting into at the time."

Not afraid to fight their corner, Holt has made no secret of the challenges that a small club can face lower down the league pyramid.

He continued: "I live in the community so if I don't do a good job, they will tell me. Now [Roman] Abramovich could do a bad job at Chelsea and nobody will tell him.

"Whereas here, I can't go in a pub for a meal without being told if I do a bad job or a good job and that's a big motivator."

'I've had plenty of sing songs'

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Accrington Stanley gain promotion

John Coleman has seen big changes since he originally joined the club as their boss two decades ago and is now leading their charge in League One.

"I remember going back to the early years and we used to allow the fans on the coach and that helped pay for it, to be honest," said Coleman. "There was no other reason.

"I think we're the only club where all the players after a home match will go into the bar and mingle with the supporters and I think they really appreciate that.

"They come in and have a laugh and a joke and they want to have a sing song with you. I've had plenty of sing songs with them."

Stanley is a club close to the heart of cricket pundit and ex-Test player David 'Bumble' Lloyd, who says they have come a long way in recent times.

"He [Holt] gets Accrington because he's from round here and he understands that it's all about community," said Lloyd.

"I've been here through thin and thinner, let me tell you, with no toilets, no running water, nothing. Now we've got a ground that we can be quite proud of.

"They've given a load of kids in the town a shirt. So we get it, we know what community is all about."

The full interview can be seen on BBC Inside Out on BBC One in the North West on Monday, 14 January.