Omiya Ardija have announced a series of targets by which the development of the club as a force within Japanese football can be measured. These are broader than the last set of ambitions that Squirrels management released prior to the 2006 campaign, which were based around the specifics of the first team and J1 - for example, the infamous top seven finish, so conspicuously missed by Toshiya Miura and his squad.
There are seven such targets, a number of which relate to more peripheral activities such as the Sports Clinic and the development of a training ground within Omiya itself, presumably to be used instead of the unpopular NTT facility at Shiki. But of more interest to supporters is the notion that Ardija have as their number one intention the winning of J1 itself by 2011 (in two seasons in the top flight, they have finished thirteenth and twelfth out of eighteen teams).
Within the same timescale, the club are now on record as aiming to produce via the youth team a Japanese full international player. Certainly in the J1 era, Omiya have found it difficult to blood young players in their own first team, with the likes of central midfielders Jun Marques Davidson and Shin Kanazawa moving elsewhere in the hope of finding more playing time.
Defender Haruki Nishimura and midfield player Takaya Kawanabe are the latest youngsters to be offered pro contracts, with Kawanabe the only one to have gained any first team experience at all. But nevertheless, both will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of the club's only international to date, the currently injured attacking midfielder Daigo Kobayashi - who was himself bought prior to the 2006 season from Tokyo Verdy 1969.
The other main club target is an attempt to address one of Omiya Ardija's main bugbears: the development of a regular local fanbase. Situated as they are a stone's throw from J-League giants Urawa Reds, this is a significant issue indeed for the team's management, given that following Reds is effectively a default option for locals new to football supporting.
In seeking to attract young families in particular to attend their home games, the Squirrels have met with modest but undeniable success. Year-on-year, the increases in gates at first glance appear on the small side - but when taking into account the fact that the average in Omiya's first J-League season, 1999, stood at 2674, an equivalent figure of 10,234 last year starts to look more impressive.
Now, the club have declared that they are aiming to have a total attendance of 300,000 fans per season by 2009. This translates as an average per match of 17,647 - more than the capacity of the club's Omiya Koen stadium that is currently undergoing redevelopment, a tacit acknowledgement that big games at Saitama Stadium against the likes of the Reds are a keystone to the club's planning. But if this were to be achieved, it would go some considerable way towards placing the club on more of an equal financial footing to their rivals.