Cheltenham Town: It has been well worth the wait - Baker
CHELTENHAM Town are geared up for automatic promotion after backing boss Mark Yates to invest heavily in the January transfer window, according to chairman Paul Baker.
Reading centre-back Michael Hector arrived on an initial month's loan yesterday, joining fellow new boys Jason Taylor, Luke McCullough and Paul Benson at the Abbey Business Stadium.
With Darren Carter also extending his contract until the end of the season and two more new faces due in before tonight's 11pm deadline, this has undoubtedly been Cheltenham's busiest month of dealings in recent memory.
Yates did not deny the club were close to capturing Swindon Town winger Luke Rooney, while the permanent signing of another striker is also in the pipeline.
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Baker emphasised the club had not spent beyond their means, but confirmed the board have given Yates every penny possible in a bid to claim a first automatic promotion in the club's Football League era.
"The signings we've done and the signings still to come I think will make it one of the busiest transfer windows we've had for a long time and it's been worth the wait," Baker said.
"What's particularly pleasing is the quality of the players we are bringing in because they are proven, established players who will excite the fans.
"It puts to bed the 'little old Cheltenham' scenario because we have been one of the busiest clubs in League Two this month and the signings will have surprised a lot of people.
"They show our intent. We are being quietly ambitious within a strict structure because we want to get promoted and why would be making these sort of signings and committing to this sort of expenditure if we weren't serious about that this season?"
Baker wants to avoid the play-off lottery this time around after watching Cheltenham lose out in last year's final to Crewe Alexandra at Wembley.
He said a careful review of the playing budget gave Yates extra funds, largely thanks to the FA Cup run to third round, where Cheltenham played Everton in front of a sell-out crowd and the live ESPN cameras.
"Like any manager, Mark has to sell his ideas and ambitions to the board and when he comes to us with names of this quality, inevitably we will try and make it happen," Baker said.
"We can see that there are spin-offs to bringing in good players in terms of higher gates and staying in the promotion places.
"The financial implications of being in the play-offs or being promoted automatically mean we have speculated sensibly."
Baker said that cash was never an issue in Yates' ultimately successful bid to bring in striker Benson on loan for the rest of the season from Swindon.
"A deal was done at an early stage between the clubs and we are just delighted Benson decided to come here," Baker said,
"He is on a good wage at Swindon and we are playing a percentage of those wages. He is a well-paid footballer, but we are delighted to be able to afford to bring him here for the rest of the season.
"He knows what League Two is all about and he's already been successful in it, which is a real bonus.
"Mark rates him very highly and the fans do too. He has a good track record and his signing with others will make us a very exciting team to watch for the rest of the season."
Baker is hoping Cheltenham's host of new additions will tempt some extra fans through the turnstiles for Saturday's home match against Torquay United.
"There has been some criticism that we've been dour and struggling to break teams down," he said.
"We have struggled a bit recently and it hasn't been great to watch. We are in the entertainment business and these signings will definitely improve the quality of the football we play without question and more goals is what the fans want.
"Based on the players we already have here and the ones still to come, these are exciting times indeed and I can't wait for Saturday to see some new faces in action."
Yesterday's arrival Hector has just completed a loan stint with fellow League Two club Aldershot Town.
He spent time in League One with Shrewsbury earlier in the campaign and also enjoyed a spell with Barnet last season.
Yates said the 20-year-old was likely to remain with Cheltenham for the rest of the season.
"Michael is big, strong, composed on the ball and mobile," Yates said.
"He is a good defender and I've been trying to work out why we've been conceding goals. He is a bit different to what we have."