STEETON are set to move to Cougar Park if their application to join the North West Counties League is successful.

The West Riding County Amateur League Premier Division club have an agreement to ground-share with Keighley Cougars next season should they gain entrance to step six of the non-league pyramid.

A restructure will see the NWCL expand in 2018-19, with the current Division One being split into North and South sections.

It means the League have welcomed more applications from step seven clubs such as Steeton, who believe the time is right for them to make the move to semi-professional football.

Manager Roy Mason said: "The North West Counties League are forming an additional division and have been actively looking for more teams to go in.

"Given the fact it was something we have talked about as a committee for a couple of seasons, it

seemed the ideal time to put our application in.

"Financially, we are progressing well and have good sponsorship.

"On the field we have been relatively successful over the last few years. Six or more of my first team are 21 and under, and this is an opportunity to not lose those players but help them grow with the club.

"Given how well Steeton’s been run for the past few years, we are ready to take that next step."

Mason said the proposed move to Cougar Park – where Silsden played when they joined the NWCL in 2004 before moving back to their Keighley Road base in 2010 – is key to their application due to ground grading issues.

He said: "Our ground doesn’t meet the criteria. We knew it wouldn’t as the pitch is too small and there is no way of making the pitch bigger.

"For ourselves and Cougars, it is probably an opportunity to grow together. The Cougars would be a multi-sports venue used 12 months of the year."

With the deadline for applications having expired at the end of last year, the NWCL are in the process of assessing clubs' submissions with at least 20 having applied.

Mason admits Steeton are now playing a "waiting game" but is confident their application – which has been backed by testimonials from Keighley-born Peter Jackson and experienced Football League manager Danny Wilson – is a good one.

The use of Cougar Park would provide an advantage over some other applying clubs, who may need to make upgrades such as floodlight installation.

Mason said: "Cougar Park ticks all the boxes from a step six perspective.

"We're definitely ready and have everything in place. If we get the go-ahead there will be more things we need to do.

"I do think Keighley can support a semi-pro football team. If done properly it is what the town is crying out for."

Cougars chairman Gary Fawcett echoed the view that a non-league club based in Keighley would provide a big boost.

He said: "With Steeton and their aspirations, we think that the asset that is Cougar Park can provide a platform to do something good for the town.

"They approached us, they are a keen, ambitious club and we said, ‘yes, we will support you.’

"It is ground-share agreement where they would use it on a Saturday and maybe sometimes midweek.

"We feel like we can work well with the committee at Steeton. They look like they want to go places and we’re pleased to support it."

Fawcett said he did not believe the Cougar Park pitch would suffer with more usage, with both clubs committed to maintaining a good surface.

Steeton still plan to keep their reserve team in the West Riding County Amateur League and play matches at their Summerhill Lane ground.

Meanwhile, league rivals Route One Rovers have also applied to join step six. The Esholt-based club are currently second in the Premier Division, two places above the Chevrons.