Ground share plan axed as rugby and football clubs eye redevelopment
PUBLISHED: 17:00 20 August 2018
Plans for Weston's top sports clubs to share a ground have been scrapped, and both will pursue development of their own stadiums.
The possibility of Weston Football Club and Weston Rugby Club sharing facilities at the latter’s base in Sunnyside Road had been explored in recent weeks, but the Mercury understands the option has now been ruled out.
Last week the rugby club revealed it is developing a ‘vision’ for its future, and it is now clear that vision does not include the football club.
The talks between the clubs were first revealed at Weston FC’s fans forum in July, when managing director Oli Bliss told supporters relocation to the rugby club or ‘major development’ were on the cards.
But the option of a ground share has been scrapped in favour redeveloping both the football club’s Woodspring Stadium, in Winterstoke Road, and Weston RFC’s Recreation Ground – with both teams harbouring ambitions of reaching new heights on and off the field.
As reported in the Mercury, the rugby club last week revealed it had appointed consultants to help create a ‘masterplan’ for the future of its Recreation Ground.
The project will see a car park and land north of the ground harvested for housing, and the club is considering refurbishing its facilities or to creating improved ones.
And it hopes to generate cash by adding ‘income-generating assets’ to a new-look complex.
A spokesman said: “The club has a long history and plays an important community role promoting rugby in Weston, and is committed to staying at the Recreation Ground.
“Investment in facilities will enable the club to provide a platform for a sustainable future and realise its full potential.”
The Seagulls hold similar aspirations for the Woodspring Stadium, with housing development and the creation of retail units underpinning plans to revamp the clubhouse, sports centre and stadium.
Mr Bliss believes the project will take ‘two to three years’ to complete, and would be backed by funding from the Football Foundation – which also part-funded the club’s recently-opened all-weather 3G training pitch.