Tuesday 7th May 2019 marked the beginning of a new era at Vale Park as Carol and Kevin Shanahan, founders of Burslem-based business Synetics Solutions, purchased Port Vale Football Club in its entirety alongside the stadium.
Having been regulars in the stands at home and away fixtures during the last few years, the Shanahans are popular figures amongst fellow supporters, but they now own the club which they hold so close to their hearts.
Despite admitting that it may take a while for that to sink in, both Kevin and Carol insist that they have to remain humble as part of the wider Port Vale family, and their main focus is to transform the fortunes of the club on and off the pitch.
Carol said: “I’m partly looking at the ‘to do’ list now which is quite lengthy, but we talk about the Port Vale family and there are lots of them who have disappeared over the years - one of our first aims is to get them back.
"To me, Vale Park is the family home and we want to be proud of it when away supporters come here, so we want it to be in the best condition that it can be. It's going to take a lot of time and there is a lot of work to be done in this stadium.
"We've always wanted to help Burslem and I've held the view that a successful football club helps its community, so we thought that if we can help make it successful then it will benefit the ST6 postcode - that's what we're going to do.
“First and foremost it’s a football club and success on the pitch is what it’s all about, but it’s also the family and we know the support it can give to people in this area.
“To get the full experience at a football match you’ve got to be surrounded by people, and we want to get them back. If you used to come to games, come back because it’s our club.”
After watching the Valiants finish 20th in Sky Bet League Two during the 2018/19 campaign, the Shanahans are desperate to ensure that supporters can smile once again and Kevin has commended the loyalty the fans have displayed.
Looking back on the final day of the season away to Bury, he believes the fantastic following showcased the potential that the club has, and he is keen to encourage people to be a part of this new chapter in the history of Port Vale.
He said: “It’s unbelievably humbling because you look at this place and you’re overwhelmed by the history of it. One of the things that become very clear to me is that nobody owns a club like Port Vale, we are merely custodians of it.
"It’s just a humbling and magnificent feeling all at the same time. We had almost 1,000 fans at Bury supporting a team that had just squeaked clear of relegation, and there was nothing to play for, so they are phenomenal.
"If we can just tap into that and give these people a bit of what they want, it will be an unbelievable place to be.
“We should all be humble in a sense and rejoice at the prospect of what we, all together, can potentially do here.
“It’s unbelievable the number of people who’ve still been turning up to games, and we desperately want to give them something. The Vale fans are seriously special and they need a lot paying back into them in some way or another.
“I think we should aim for the top, and in doing so, if we finish mid-table then so be it, but we will give it the best thing ever to try and get there.”
Since the process to officially buy the club and Vale Park began several weeks ago, everyone involved has had to work around the clock to guarantee that the Shanahans would be in this position within the timescale initially given.
Both Carol and Kevin had been trying to secure Port Vale for several years and now that has become a reality, they were quick to thank everyone, but in particular, Colin Garlick who has played a major role in ensuring that everything was in place to finalise the deal.
“We must talk about Colin Garlick because he’s been a superb servant for Port Vale begins the scenes, he’s been absolutely amazing and he’s worked night and day on it," the Shanahans said.
“He’s always been available to speak to during the process and I’m really looking forward to working with him. I think it will be really good to start putting some of his ideas into place.
“Our message to the supporters now is come and have fun. Promote Port Vale around the city and I don’t think we should be apologetic about it, we should be really proud to support this club.”