Wayne Rooney's agent Paul Stretford has non-league dream

By Simon StoneBBC Sport
Paul Stretford
Wayne Rooney's agent Paul Stretford (centre) with his dad Ron and mum Jean

The agent of England captain Wayne Rooney wants to get Cheshire League side Rylands into the Football League.

Paul Stretford was a Rylands player for a decade from the mid-1970s and became actively involved again four years ago after meeting an old team-mate on an errand to the chemists for his dad.

He has since spent £100,000 on ground improvements.

He said: "Does my work as an agent have any longevity? Probably not. With Rylands I can create a legacy."

Reaching the Football League from their present position would require seven promotions and cost the Warrington-based club millions of pounds.

Stretford said: "Why not aim for the Football League? There is no point setting a target we could achieve tomorrow. It might take 10 years, or 20. It might not happen in my lifetime. But you have to aim for the stars."

Through his work as an agent, his company also acts for Leicester duo Kasper Schmeichel and Danny Simpson, amongst others, and Stretford is used to doing deals at the very highest levels of the game.

There is no glamour attached to Rylands, who have just opened changing rooms by their Gorsey Lane pitch and a stand, named after Stretford's father, club stalwart Ron.

There are plans for floodlights in the next stage of development as Stretford looks to old rivals Fleetwood Town, now in League One, for inspiration.

"I played league games for Rylands against Fleetwood in the 1970s," said Stretford. "What they have done shows you nothing is impossible."

Stretford says his involvement is "not exactly philanthropic" but accepts "there is no return" on his investment.

"It stems from a love of football," he said. "We have to do what we can to help the grassroots of the game survive. Without that the game is going nowhere."

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