Orrell RUFC: Wigan rugby club hoping to move back to Edge Hall Road as part of exciting plans
Orrell Rugby Union Football Club still hopes a move back to former home Edge Hall Road could be on the cards in the future.
The stadium has been empty for over two years, after owners Wigan Warriors relocated to Robin Park to use their training facility.
But in an exclusive interview with the Wigan Observer, Orrell chairman Tony Havlin said Wigan owner Ian Lenagan reached out to him concerning the future of the venue.
He said: “It is a hope more than an intention to move there. We don’t have the sort of money which they want for it, even if we gave up our other projects, so we are trying to sort out support and sponsorship for it.
“We made contact with the Brighter Better Orrell community group and Coun Winstanley, to talk about how we could focus more on returning it to the local people. Our objective as a club is to develop sporting opportunities for the people of Orrell.
“Getting Edge Hall Road would give us an advance in our plans because we would have a facility where we could generate revenue and fund other activities.
“Covid has highlighted the importance of the little things such as getting involved in the community and the influence sport can have on your mental health and physical wellbeing.”
The Black and Ambers left Edge Hall Road in 2007 after a failed promotion bid to the top flight and a rapid descent through the leagues ensued.
Since then, they have been playing as an amateur outfit on pitches at St John Rigby College on Gathurst Road, while searching for a site to put down roots.
Orrell are currently in partnership with Winstanley Cricket Club, with the two involved in plans of building new shared facilities, on a site on farmland near Winstanley College. But Mr Havlin said they would like to incorporate a move back to Edge Hall Road with their current plans.
Their timescales are dependent on the level of funding they are given by Sport England.
“It all seems to be coming together but the question is can we get some more funding. There is a wonderful stadium there, but it is just one pitch so it would never be enough on its own,” said the chairman.
“The Winstanley Road site would give us the capacity we need, but Edge Hall Road would give us a clubhouse facility and a place where we could host fund-raising events.
“We have a business plan based around providing things like a small gym, so it would make money. The problem is the initial price we need to meet, because we don’t have it. Hopefully someone might wish to back us.”
Mr Havlin says he would like to see the ground back in full use and would hate for the community to lose the facility.
“It’s been disappointing to see it standing idle. We need to move very quickly because if we aren’t able to raise sufficient backing then I believe it will be sold for other purposes. The longer it goes on the less chance it will be available.
“Warriors have been helpful and co-operative, but at the end of the day they are a business. A few builders said it will need some TLC but it’s manageable. We’ve got enough people to bring it back to life.”
In response to Orrell's Edge Hall Road interest, Wigan Warriors issued a statement.
A spokesperson for the club said: "Wigan Warriors Directors have had some general conversations with Orrell RU (originally in 2019) about the possibility of them acquiring the site. This was an approach by one of their members, not an approach by Wigan Warriors.
"After looking more into the detail, it became clear that Orrell RU taking over the site again wasn’t financially viable , for them or us. We are aware that Orrell has tried to gain financial and community support, however, we have made clear that we had alternative plans for the site.
"At this point in time there is no option for Orrell RU to buy the site, we have another plan in place that has been progressed significantly during 2021. We have advised Orrell RU that we do not want any filming to take place on site at Edge Hall Road and would strongly ask that this request is adhered to. It should be noted that Wigan Warriors are not actively marketing the site as being for sale."
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