THORN Athletic chairman Mark McGee insists the hard work is only just beginning after the club was accepted into the West of Scotland Football League.

The Johnstone outfit will compete in the Fourth Division, with the move rubber-stamped at the WoSFL’s Annual General Meeting.

And there will be a new manager in charge, with former St Mirren captain Barry McLaughlin stepping into the role, to replace Johnny McEwan.

McLaughlin and assistant Arnaud Bastianelli arrive from Glenvale, where they managed the development team.

In a further boost, improvements have been taking place at the Thorn Athletic Sports Academy, including new fencing and upgrades to the pitch and drainage system.

McGee told Gazette Sport: “It has been an exciting couple of weeks for us, with a lot going on in the background.

“We were delighted to get our WoSFL membership accepted but that’s only the beginning of the hard work now in terms of getting preparations done for the start of the season.

“It’s a major step for the club and a great opportunity for everyone involved here.”

McGee said securing funding for improvements at Thorn’s ground was key to being accepted into the WoSFL set-up.

He added: “We took the decision to apply to the West of Scotland League in the hope we’d be accepted and be able to play our games at our own facility, in an enclosed pitch on a better surface.

“Everything fell into place and work is well underway. The pitch is pretty much fully enclosed and is being worked on every day, so it should be ready around the end of August.”