Few outside of the club expected Barrow AFC to achieve promotion before a ball was kicked this season, but chairman Paul Hornby is hoping the club have set a blueprint of what can be done with locally-based owners.

The odds against the Bluebirds winning the National League were set at 50/1 back in August and prior to this season they had never threatened a return to the English Football League since being voted out way back in 1972.

However, the club now has a season in League Two to prepare for after they were confirmed as going up last week, having achieved their dream with what was believed to be the sixth-lowest budget in the division.

That is in contrast to the likes of Crawley, Fleetwood and Salford, who are perceived to have bought their way up the football pyramid, but the ownership model of Hornby, Tony Shearer, Mark Hetherington, Kristian Wilkes and the Bluebirds Trust have backed manager Ian Evatt whenever possible.

Hornby said: “We couldn’t afford to make any mistakes - I know there was this urban myth of having a top-four budget.

“We’ve had a competitive budget that has been added to throughout the year, but you’ve got to put it down to a two-year project - Peter [Atherton] and Ian have taken these young lads, made them better and then made them better again.

“They’ve hand-picked a lot of players and they’ve watched a lot of analysis and a lot of hard work has gone into getting us up.

“It’s testament to the team we’ve got here and they’ll probably say it’s testament to the support they’ve got off us, as a board, but I think it’s unique, the way we’ve set up this football club, with the supporters’ trust involved.

“It’s a blueprint for clubs going forward because we’ve all got different skills and, crucially, we’ve all be supportive of what we’re trying to do.”

Hornby also believes opposition teams will be pleasantly surprised with the facilities at Holker Street, which has gone over a gradual makeover over the last 12 months.

He said: “There’s some big teams in League Two and we’ve tried to put the canopy roof on not just to cover our own fans but to cover the away fans. We’ve got the fanzone for our home fans and we did the corporate rooms and the bar last year.”

Amid speculation over Bolton Wanderers being interested in Evatt as their next manager, it is understood any club who approaches AFC for his services would have to pay an up-front compensation fee of £250,000.