A club, who have been firmly in the headlines this season, are set to leave one of the most iconic stadiums in non league football.
Chorley have revealed that they are looking to leave the much loved Victory Park stadium having been their home for more than a century.
The Magpies moved into the Duke Street based ground in 1920, however just over 100 years on, chief executive Terry Robinson has hinted that a move to a brand new, modern, purpose-built stadium could be the next step in the club’s evolution.
Victory Park is often described best for it ‘charm and character’, whilst there is a huge amount of love for their traditional main stand.
That was built in the 1940s and of course you can’t beat a bit of terracing behind each goal, which often provides the ground with a buzzing atmosphere on matchdays.
The club however feel that some of the facilities there are dated and now is the time for change.
Chorley have had quite the rise in the non league pyramid, going from struggling in the Northern Premier League First Division North to a place where they can make a joint effort to become a Football League club.
Of course they struggled a fair bit when playing in the National League last season before being relegated. But since then they’ve found form in the National League North before the season was cancelled, and had a memorable stunning run in the FA Cup, capturing people’s attention.
There is a feeling in the boardroom that the Magpies must continue to keep pace off the pitch as well as on it.
“I think for the past couple years the idea has been to move to a new stadium,” revealed Terry Robinson. “But unfortunately that idea has not materialised but I am not saying it will never happen. We are keen to explore the possibility and for it to happen.”
Whether there is scope to redevelop Victory Park is something the club would also look into but a lot would depend on the local authority as the stadium is council owned.
“When you’re in the National League like we are which has standards, you have to upgrade your existing facility to meet the requirement of that league,” said Robinson.
“We have spent a fair amount of money on the stadium and on the pitch. We know it’s an old stadium, but we are upgrading it.
“The capacity is now more than 4,000. We have some work to do on the main stand which we are on with now.
“We are upgrading the social club and we would like to put some terracing on the Ashby Street side of the ground opposite the main stand.
“That is something we will be looking at in the forthcoming years.
“The first thing is we will be looking to install some new floodlights which will give us the opportunity to redevelop that side of the ground.
“We continue to move forward as a football club within the facility that we have.
“But I think we will always be aware that if an opportunity arises, we would like a new stadium.
“The ground is a council-owned stadium and if the council, who have been helpful, would like to upgrade Victory Park then that would be great for everybody.
“The council’s thinking, though, is that they would like to do a development somewhere else – if that is feasible, possible and financially do-able.”
@chorleyfc chief executive Terry Robinson discusses the future ambitions of the Magpies
“I think for the past couple years the idea has been to move to a new stadium” https://t.co/NUVZhA6dSR
— Chorley Guardian (@guardianchorley) March 20, 2021
A brand new stadium would be extremely beneficial to Chorley as they look to get to League Two, plus it would bring in higher level players.
“First of all the club needs to get back in the National League,” said Robinson. “But getting in the Football League I don’t think would faze us.
“Our crowds have been up to 2,000 a game pre-pandemic . I think 2,500 has been our highest one a few years ago.
“So we know that there is a demand and I think the Football League is feasible.
“It’s quite amazing how a new stadium puts you on a different trajectory.
“There seems to be more interest when a new stadium is built. You get more kids interested because they think it’s safer, the parents think it’s safer for their children to attend games.
“A new stadium provides you with an opportunity to do different things .
“But you have got to be careful that you don’t allow your ambition to override your finances.
“We would love a community-based facility.
“We have got 80 to 90 kids in our junior teams and we have got about 50 to 60 lads at 16-years-old on our BTEC programme.
“We do walking football, sporting memories which aids people with dementia.
“We’re actually looking at the possibility of having an hybrid pitch which will give us 28 hours use of the pitch a week.
“We want to make it so that the football club is a focal point of the community and we can put on activities for them. It’s no good saying that we are a community club when the community can’t do anything.”
Robinson insists Chorley’s first-team squad will continue to train each week despite the campaign being declared null and void.
The Magpies had hoped that a mini-league would be set-up for those clubs who wished to play and had continued to train in the hope that the FA would sanction such a proposal.
Though, that plan was rejected and now the players will continue to meet at least once a week. On Wednesday, a Magpies XI played Birmingham City’s academy.
“The players are coming in voluntary one day per week,” he said. “We are also trying to arrange one or two friendlies because if our players don’t play from February to August, it won’t be ideal.”
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With the club to leave one of the most iconic stadiums in non league football, what other grounds would you say are or were under the same description?