IAN MAXWELL always wanted to get his feet under the desk at Firhill when he hung up his boots.

But it is the offices that overlook the pitch rather than the one in the bowels of the stadium where the 39-year-old has found himself forging a new career in the game.

When Ian McCall stepped down as Partick Thistle manager three years ago, Maxwell was keen to replace him in the Firhill dugout but was overlooked as Jackie McNamara was given the Jags top job.

The defender was convinced by chairman David Beattie to move upstairs and the rest, they say, is history.

As Thistle made significant steps under McNamara, and have made huge strides under current boss Alan Archibald, Maxwell has played his part -but not in the way he thought.

A change of title, from general manager to managing director, was another step up the career ladder for Maxwell - who also turned out for Queen's Park and St Mirren during his playing days.

"The guys asked me if I wanted to become a director and, when I started here, I never thought I would be on the board of a Premiership club. It has been fantastic for me," he told SportTimes.

"I always had half an eye on where I was going to end up when my playing career finished. I wouldn't have minded having a go at management.

"It has been the right decision that I didn't, not that it was my decision right enough.

"With hindsight, the fact I didn't go down that road has turned out to be right.

"As a learning experience, it has been massive. I could write a book on everything that has happened.

"There has been so much going on and from an experience point of view, it has been brilliant."

Thistle may have made real progress on and off the field in recent months but it has not always been plain sailing at Firhill.

As they prepare for the new season, Maxwell and the Thistle board can be satisfied with the job they have done so far but it is on the pitch where the Jags are judged the most.

A year after Archibald lead them to the First Division title, they secured their place in the Premiership for another campaign in the penultimate 90 minutes of action at Tynecastle last month.

"I think it felt better, like more of an achievement, this season," Maxwell said.

"It means more in terms of growing the business and growing the club and pushing forward.

"Getting up was great, but you are not really a Premiership club until you have been up and stayed up for a year or two and are established.

"We can plan as a Premiership club, we can act like one and have a structure off the park that we can go and grow.

"We brought in a few more staff but there is always a doubt about what will happen if we go back down.

"We have been here for a year, we have learned from the hundreds of mistakes we have made and we are better equipped to go and progress next year.

"We will have a better structure off the park and the manager will have a better chance of pushing on and finishing higher up the table."

The season may have ended in defeat for Thistle, a final day loss to Ross County denying them a seventh-place finish, but it was a campaign of success for Archibald and his players.

The challenge is to continue moving in the right direction across all areas of the club and the determination is there to succeed once again.

Maxwell said: "Celtic are a different proposition, Aberdeen are in a different league financially, then it is Dundee United with around six or seven thousand home fans.

"Then it is much the same for the likes of ourselves, St Johnstone, St Mirren.

"Motherwell, while they are well structured off the park, are not that different from us in terms of their fanbase and the size of the club.

"There is no reason why we can't be as big as a St Mirren or St Johnstone.

"If we had a Scottish Cup final, like St Johnstone, we could have more than 20,000 people there.

"There is a lot to be done but we need to try and progress. The board and manager want to get as high as we can.

"When you see how close we came to finishing seventh, we know where we can improve and we could push for the top six. It is such a fine line."