KIDDERMINSTER Harriers and a new fans' group are joining fund-raising forces to enable manager Stuart Watkiss to set up a full-time youth team of apprentice professionals.

Harriers' relegation from the Football League has meant a closer cutting of the financial cloth and a back-up team of aspiring professional players will be vital in bolstering a smaller than usual first-team squad.

Watkiss is hoping to have around 20 apprentices enrolled on a two-year local college course providing football coaching and academic study.

The support of fans and local businesses is needed to enable the scheme to begin almost immediately.

Harriers are anxious to begin the process of selecting youngsters who show real potential from the existing youth team and will be looking closely at those released by Harriers' larger neighbours.

Watkiss is prepared to give them another chance to prove they can make it in professional football.

But, without the help of supporters and sponsors alike, the scheme may not get off the ground in time to be of benefit during a crucial Conference season, particularly with a transfer window now in operation.

The 250 Club has been formed to raise 'ring-fenced' funds for the youth scheme by subscription of a single payment of £250 or 12 monthly installments of £20.83. They will also be running fund-raising events.

Watkiss said: "The board, staff and I are fully behind the 250 Club and their efforts to assist me in setting up the youth scheme this season rather than in 12 months' time.

"There will be a lot of people at the club hoping that this comes to fruition and I would urge every individual Harriers fan and the local business community to support this initiative and come together to make it a real success."

The 250 Club chairman Karl Rose, a local businessman, is urging supporters and business people in the area to rally around the club.

Rose said: "The youth set-up at Kidderminster Harriers is a vital element in its long-term future but the current situation impacts heavily on the club's short-term plans as well.

"There hasn't been a youth team of sufficient standard at Kidderminster for a while now and the club suffers as a result.

"We need this scheme to go ahead and we need the local business community and individual sponsors to come forward and help us out.

"The fans are standing by to take over the youth scheme funding and may well have a significant sum raised quite early on after The 250 Club goes live but we will still need alternative financial input if it is to get off the ground now.

"We won't be able to fund this project from day one, we will need time to build up our 'pot' and time is something in very short supply.

"If anyone can help us get the show on the road, I would urge them to come forward and contact Stuart Watkiss at Kidderminster Harriers."

Alternatively, those interested can contact the 250 club on or text or call the committee on 07747-111312, 07973-490110 or 07790-056958.