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Northern Premier League club to move out of 13,350 seater stadium

It has been announced that one particular Northern Premier League club are set to move out of their 13,350 seater stadium.

Widnes have been playing their home matches at the Halton Stadium, which is also home to Widnes Vikings and Halton Spartans, a ground they moved into back in 2012.

The club’s highest attendance at the stadium is 462 set on the 22nd of April 2017 against Charnock Richard, but now they could be set for a new ground.

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Playing fields in the Cheshire based town are set to be leased to the non league football club as part of plans to improve sports facilities in the borough.

The plans, which will come before Halton Borough Council’s executive board next week, would see Widnes FC lease the former Corpy Club building and pitches at King George V Playing Fields in Dundalk Road from the council.

A report prepared ahead of the executive board meeting states that the plans would also see part of the playing fields enclosed around an adult grass pitch.

The report said: “Detailed building drawings have not been received, but as there were significant change [sic] to the appearance of the playing fields, the council required the consent of the National Playing Fields Association (Fields in Trust) to the plans and the lease.

“The council is in a position to agree heads of terms, subject to Widnes FC Ltd firming up their proposals and submitting a planning application.”

Proposals for Widnes FC to move from Halton Stadium to new home ground revealed

Credit: Runcorn and Widnes World

Founded in 2003, Widnes FC is currently play in the Northern Premier League’s Division One North West – the eighth tier of English football.

The club are understood to be in talks with the council regarding the Dundalk Road pitches since summer 2019 and the club has offered to invest more than £1m in improving both the playing fields and clubhouse with the latter empty since its lease was surrendered to the council in July 2018, with only the changing rooms now used by teams renting the pitches.

This would see the Northern Premier League club move out of their current 13,350 seater stadium.

Plenty of work is needed, including electrical and mechanical works, as well as work on internal walls due to damp, but the council currently has no plans to invest in the clubhouse and is only carrying out routine maintenance at a cost of around £41,000 a year, according to Runcorn and Widnes World.

Halton Council last year invited expressions of interest from clubs willing to take on the building, but after site visits from several organisations Widnes FC was the only one to make an offer.

If a lease is agreed, Widnes will need to submit a planning application to develop the clubhouse and enclose one of the pitches.

But the council was keen to stress that no final agreement has been reached with the club.

The executive board report said: “At this point it should be noted that no agreement has been entered into with Widnes FC Ltd.

“Officers have now got the discussions to a stage where the Council needs to consider if Widnes FC Ltd should be encouraged to invest significant time and resources in preparing a planning application.

“No assurances have [been] given to Widnes FC that a planning application will be successful. Thus the heads of terms will remain in draft format until such time council approval is given.

“If approval to proceed with a lease is granted, then following the applicant’s planning submission, the planning documentation will need to be sent to Fields in Trust for review and approval.

“As long as there are not any significant changes to the plans already presented then Fields in Trust do not expect to change their position/conditions of lease.”

If Widnes FC’s proposals are approved, the council will no longer have to pay for the running costs of the pavilion and playing fields and the club would bring significant investment in facilities that the council acknowledges are in “poor condition”.

It would also bring about the pitch improvements called for by the council’s Local Football Facilities Plan, which identified improving pitches at King George V playing fields as a priority project.

Halton Council’s executive board are to discuss the plans at a meeting set for the 10th of December.

Meanwhile, another club that are currently playing in a stadium just a bit too big for them is Croydon FC.

They have stirred up plenty of talk in recent months after choosing to move into a ground that has huge amounts of history with it.

The Southern Counties East League Division One outfit face Athletic Newham at 1:45pm on Saturday in the London Senior Trophy.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, their home ground, Croydon Sports Arena, remains closed with the surface unplayable.

They are pleased to announce a temporary switch of home ground to Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. It has a capacity of 15,500, but can be and has been in the past expanded to 24,000 with temporary seating.

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