We will compete in Championship following promotion, say confident Barnsley hierarchy

Conor Hourihane with Barnsley FC owner Patrick Cryne.
Conor Hourihane with Barnsley FC owner Patrick Cryne.

Barnsley’s confident hierarchy are quietly content the club can challenge in the Championship next season.

The Reds clinched a memorable promotion back to England’s second tier thanks to a 3-1 League One Play-Off final victory over Millwall at Wembley last weekend.

And a super season also saw the resurgent Reds win the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, the club’s first cup final win since 1912.

Club chairman Maurice Watkins said: “We are looking to stay up and make a good show of it in the Championship.

“I think two years ago when we got relegated the club had been teetering on the brink for a few years and almost needed to come down to revitalise itself.

“Big clubs have come down from the Premier League and other big ones are there already, so we know it will be a challenge but one we are up to.

“It was a great experience winning at Wembley and getting promotion that way, for me and everyone at the club.

“Remember where we might have been at the beginning of the season, down at the bottom only a few months ago, so to pull it round and win at Wembley twice is a wonderful achievement.

“It was no fluke, credit to Millwall who said the better side won, but I thought we deserved the victory.”

Watkins and club owner Patrick Cryne have shown great faith in caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom, thrust into the manager’s roll following the depature of Lee Johnson to Bristol City.

And they also kept faith with Johnson after the club slumped to the bottom of League One at the end of November.

Johnson got the ball rolling again and Heckingbottom built on that momentum – and some.

And Cryne, who has revealed Heckingbottom will be offered the job on a permanent basis, wants the club to keep building on the solid roots it’s set down this season.

“I think what we’ve managed to do this season, which is the most satisfying thing, is to create a unity between the management of the club - in it’s broadest sense – the management of the club, the team and the Barnsley fans,” said Cryne.

“We’ve got them all together and behind the project. From my experience it’s unique that we’ve managed to do that.

“You usually say that some part of hitting that part of the equation is critical, but I think we’ve had tremendous support from the Barnsley public.

“The supporters want success, but they also want to see an enjoyable brand of football.

“Sometimes the brand of football we play is very risqué, but it’s a very enjoyable brand of football which we are playing now.

“Without a doubt this surpasses everything for me. It was good to get into the Championship first time around.

“That was very satisfying, but we weren’t as well prepared for the Championship then as we are this time.

“But then again it’s more difficult now that it used to be, so it’s going to be interesting to see what we can achieve.”

Asked whether the club are on the verge of something special, Cryne replied: “It really depends on whether we can keep our team together and whether we can recruit wisely as we have done to get this team.

“If we do those things right then we’ll have a good chance of survival.”