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Barry Bright believes Gillingham will soon be joined by another Kent club in the Football League

Barry Bright believes it's only a matter of time before Kent has a second club in the Football League.

Mr Bright is about to step down as Kent FA chairman after 34 years but he has every reason to be confident about local football.

This season the county will have four clubs in the National League for the first time ever and Mr Bright believes it won’t be long until one of them joins Gillingham in the EFL.

Ebbsfleet celebrate promotion to the National League Picture: Andy Payton
Ebbsfleet celebrate promotion to the National League Picture: Andy Payton

He said. "I would love to have seen it happen in my time as chairman but it wasn’t to be.

"There has to be a financial common sense about it, to make sure the club are viable financially and has enough people operating within it – but it will come.

"I think we’re healthy at senior level. I was in Newport for the National League presentation evening and it’s good to see Kent clubs in that room – ambitious clubs, wanting to do well.

"Generally, I’m fairly pleased with the way Kent football has gone as an association.

"It has fine new offices, the county is more than financially stable and has a sizeable team led by a professional chief executive in Paul Dolan. Kent is regarded by the FA as one of the leaders within football. That’s not just fancy words, that’s the truth."

So why has Mr Bright dedicated so much of his life to the beautiful game?

He said: "I find it exciting, fun, frustrating at times and some of the conduct worries me but generally, I’ve always got a lot of satisfaction out of it.

"I want young people to be involved. It can create friendships for many years and a team ethos.

"I see youngsters with disabilities able to play football and get something from it and 20 years ago we didn’t see that sort of thing in this country.

"Here we are with disability football in this county very strong, a lot of people partaking, getting enjoyment and their families seeing something they enjoy with them.

"Football can be disappointing but football can be recklessly joyful. I just get fun out of it.

"I will try desperately not to interfere (at the Kent FA) but after 34 years as chairman, that might be difficult."

Mr Bright is also leaving the Football Association board this summer but will continue his work at UEFA.

Barry Bright is stepping down from the Football Association board this summer Picture: John Westhrop
Barry Bright is stepping down from the Football Association board this summer Picture: John Westhrop

One of four National Game directors and the leader of the FA Council, Mr Bright also serves on the association’s judicial panel, finance committee and is a National Sports Centre trustee.

Mr Bright chaired the disciplinary commission which handed Rio Ferdinand an eight-month ban in 2003 for missing a drug test. He also ruled on high-profile cases involving Roy Keane, Alan Shearer and Frank de Boer and represents UEFA at Champions League and Europa League matches.

Mr Bright said: "It’s a huge privilege. I’ve been, I’ve met, I’ve seen places and people that I’d have never had the opportunity in my life to ever discuss football with, meet and see.

"I’ve been a delegate for UEFA for a long time, which means ensuring the organisation of the games is to a standard that is as high as they wish it to be.

"From the early rounds of the Europa League, it can be the smaller clubs in Europe but then only six weeks ago, I did Bayern Munich versus Real Madrid the day after Borussia Dortmund.

"UEFA have asked me whether I will train new delegates and mentor them, which I’m delighted to do. I will be taking that on board starting in August.

"I will still be sitting on UEFA’s disciplinary and appeals body for another two years.

"There’s been some great occasions in this country. The 150th anniversary of the FA and the president, Prince William, suggests playing a game of football for the two oldest clubs in the country in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.

"I’d love to have heard what Prince Philip said.

"When I talk of privilege, that’s the sort of occasion that probably won’t ever happen again. I have to pinch myself and say ‘I was there as vice-chairman of the FA’."

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