Wigan bids for football hubs funding

Wigan Council is among the bidders hoping to be chosen for the Parklife programme, a £200m initiative led by the Football Association, Sport England and the Premier League to develop community football facilities.

The council plans to develop football hubs with associated facilities at three sites across the borough: Howe Bridge in Atherton, Cardinal Newman playing fields in Hindley, and Laithwaite Park in Wigan.

Bidders must have two or three hub sites, with each site having the ability to deliver a minimum of two 3G pitches with changing and clubhouse facilities, potentially with the addition of further facilities such as flexible indoor spaces for education or community use.

Each of Wigan’s sites has the potential for three full-size floodlit 3G pitches. The council said that clubs currently using pitches at its proposed sites will be invited to make the transition to the new facilities.

Part of the government’s Sporting Future plan, Parklife is one of the ways in which sporting authorities are seeking to reinvest the millions made at the top of the game at grassroots level.

Artificial surfaces offer significantly more robustness than grass pitches, which can only offer six to eight hours football a week, even in favourable weather. The Parklife centres will be fully accessible to all football formats, also being 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 Parklife prospectus states that each site typically costs between £3m and £4m to deliver. Wigan said that the project could bring up to £7m of investment from sports bodies, with the council funding 40% of the programme.

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.

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