THE timely completion of Accrington Stanley's new £50,000 cantilever stand could signal a step up into a new Vauxhall Conference set-up.

For the Conference is currently considering plans to set up a second division in time for the Millennium.

Crown Ground officials are hoping to have the steel work up in time for Saturday's home game with Alfreton Town.

And the cladding, together with a few other finishing touches, will be completed at the end of the season.

The new roof, designed by chartered architects Chadwick and Bracewell of Blackburn, is the latest development in a series of ground improvements which has seen the UniBond Premier club fork out over £200,000 since chairman Eric Whalley took over.

And ,if the club achieve the necessary ground-grading once the latest work is finished, they could well feature in a possible shake-up at the top of the non-league pyramid system.

"We would definitely be interested if it came about," said Stanley secretary John De-Maine.

"We are not doing the work we are doing on the ground for nothing.

"It would be a big step to join a possible Second Division because it would cost a lot financially. "But, despite the poor season we've had, we are the fourth best supported team in the league and we've got a lot of ambition."

Representatives of the FA were due to have talks yesterday with the National League Systems bosses, who run semi-pro soccer, about the possibility of a second division.

The discussions have come as a result of strong pressure by clubs from the Conference's three feeder leagues, which includes the Unibond League.

Several factors have prompted the initiative but the issue has been brought into focus by the dilemma facing the pyramid administrators concerning the destination of the three clubs facing relegation from the Conference. Three northern clubs look like coming down and the Unibond League will not be able to accommodate them meaning some clubs may have to move leagues.

A Second Division would alleviate the problem and open the door for ambitious clubs to gain quicker access to the national non-league scene.

Seven or eight clubs from the Unibond League would be invited to join, and with less than half of the current 22 clubs having the required facilities, Stanley - and neighbours Chorley - would be sure to be in the picture.

"We are desperate to bring success to this club for the sake of the fans," said De-Maine.

"We have spent over £200,000 on the ground since Eric took over but that has been done gradually because we are not prepared to go into debt for anything.

"But our ground is now one of the best around and hopefully once the roof is complete we will get the all-clear from the Conference."

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.