The direction in which Barrow AFC are heading was key to manager Ian Evatt agreeing his new contract with the club.

Evatt has guided the Bluebirds to a top-half finish in the National League in his first season with them, which is also his first campaign in management after retiring as a player at Chesterfield last year.

Negotiations over his new deal, which lasts for three years, have been taking place behind the scenes for the last month or so, with a few minor details leading to a slight delay in it being signed.

But now Evatt’s future has been secured, AFC can help him to build a squad that will help him to push on from the progress made this season and potentially mount a play-off push next season.

Evatt said: “I’m happy, obviously. I wouldn’t be signing a new contract if I wasn’t happy.

“I’m happy with the direction in which the club’s going, I’m happy with the support we’re getting from within the town – the re-engagement that I’ve spoken about.

“It was important for this football club and I get the sense now that we’re building for the future and that’s important for me.”

Chairman Paul Hornby added: "I’m delighted to get Ian secured on a longer term deal. There was never any doubt in Ian’s commitment to Barrow AFC and the new agreement gives comfort to both parties, whilst rewarding Ian after a season with so many positives.

"I’m sure it also demonstrates to our supporters the direction we want to take the club, into what I’m sure will be an exciting future."

Evatt has already made strides when it comes to putting his team together for next season, with club captain Josh Granite signing a new contract with Barrow on Wednesday.

That followed goalkeeper Joel Dixon, defender Sam Hird and winger Josh Kay in agreeing to stay with the Bluebirds last week, while Lewis Hardcastle was signed permanently from Blackburn in March.

Evatt has insisted that the major details in his own contract had been agreed for some time and that he remained focused on planning ahead during the negotiations.

He said: “I’m professional and I was focused anyway, but it obviously helps things in terms of what I need to do and how I need to do it.

“I think it’s clear to me what we need in the summer – I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, it’s not going to be easy but we’re certainly in a much better position this summer as to what we were in last summer.”

Evatt felt the whole club was given a lift by the manner of Monday's 1-0 victory over Hartlepool United, which was Barrow’s last home game of the season.

Not only was the bumper attendance of 3,007 the Bluebirds’ highest of the season, it was also the most who have passed through the turnstiles at Holker Street for a league game in the last 20 years.

Those inside saw arguably AFC’s most complete performance of the campaign, as they controlled the game throughout.

“I didn’t really feel any type of nerves on Monday,” Evatt said, adding: “I didn’t have that feeling that I’ve had in previous games, like the Dover game, where we were having a wobble.

“I felt like we were in total control and we looked like we were going to score every time we went forward, which was really pleasing."