£10m bid for super new pitches

Wigan borough is bidding to bring a £10m boost to grassroots sport through the creation of three state-of-the-art football hubs.

Wednesday, 29th November 2017, 10:58 am
Updated Monday, 11th December 2017, 10:12 pm
Emmerson Boyce with youngsters at the launch of the 3G all-weather community football hub at Little Lane, Goose Green

Wigan Council is applying to be part of the successful Parklife programme spearheaded by the Football Association, the Premier League and Sport England.

Parklife is The FA’s bold plan to address poor facilities in grassroots football and has already delivered state-of-the-art 3G artificial grass pitches in cities including London and Sheffield.

The Wigan Parklife programme will potentially see three hubs created in the borough.

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The preferred sites are:

Howe Bridge in Atherton

Cardinal Newman playing fields in Hindley

Laithwaite Park in Wigan

Clubs currently holding leases on the preferred hub sites are being consulted with and have been invited to be partner clubs and use Parklife as their base.

The hubs will have a minimum of three full sized floodlit 3G artificial grass pitches, changing rooms and clubhouse facilities for community sports clubs representing all playing ages to use and car parking.

They will significantly reduce disruption caused by frozen and waterlogged surfaces during the harsh winter months.

Typically, a well-maintained natural turf pitch can offer six to eight playing hours of football a week, however artificial grass pitches can easily accommodate double that volume on a daily basis.

This massively increases the number of playing opportunities and offers football at flexible times.

The centres will be fully accessible and will present opportunities to play flexible forms of the game and will be available for use by other sports.

Donna Hall, Wigan Council’s chief executive, said: “To be part of the Parklife programme generates a huge opportunity for the borough to get the very best sports facilities for our communities which can be used the whole year round.

“There are so many potential benefits of having the three new hubs here from increased levels of health and physical activity among all ages to widening access to sporting activities to all.

“We want everyone in Wigan Borough, regardless of age, gender or level of ability, to feel able to engage in sport and physical activity."

The project would bring up to £7m of investment from sports bodies in the borough and the council would match fund 40 per cent of the rest of programme bringing the total investment between £10m and £12m.

The portfolio of Parklife hubs will be run by a newly created football trust, the board of which would have representation from the FA, Lancashire FA, Wigan Council and the Wigan Athletic Community Trust.

The trust would then procure and appoint an operator through a tender process.

The Parklife programme is a central part of Wigan’s new playing pitch strategy which ensures a strategic approach to pitch provision that contributes to the council’s aims of improving health and wellbeing and increasing community involvement.