Weston consider football stadium move

Weston in action against Tonbridge

Weston in action against Tonbridge - Credit: Archant

WESTON Football Club could build a new out-of-town stadium to help make the club more successful in the long-term.

The Blue Square South club is considering selling its current ground and teaming up with Weston College to build a new sports complex at Locking Parklands.

Weston FC’s plans to potentially move away from the Woodspring Stadium were announced at Sunday’s fans’ forum.

Chairman Paul Bliss told fans the club has approached the college to see if it is interested in a partnership.

It is one of two proposals currently being discussed by the club’s board, with it also investigating the feasibility of building a new grass pitch and a 3G all-weather pitch on its current site in Winterstoke Road. Both would be made available to the local community.

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Director Oli Bliss said any move to Locking Parklands would enable the club to progress.

The club currently sits seventh in the table - two positions outside the play-off spots - giving the Seagulls a realistic chance of achieving promotion to the Blue Square Premier and being one division below the Football League.

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Despite its excellent form on the pitch, Oli said promotion to the Conference could cause problems off it.

He said: “Financially the reason behind this is to have the club self-sufficient because the board funds quite a lot of it at the moment.

“If we can develop then we can move up in this league. If we could get promoted then we would struggle to finance it (at present).”

He said teaming up with the college would allow both organisations to better prepare for the future.

Weston College has applied to North Somerset Council for planning permission to build a North Somerset Enterprise and Technology College on the Locking Parklands site, which would cater for 800 pupils, aged 14-19.

Weston FC believes a partnership would allow the college to provide needed sports facilities for its students, while improving the long-term prospects of the club.

Oli said: “The new ground would have improved facilities but would not necessarily be much bigger as our existing ground is capable of reaching Conference (standards).

“We would leave enough room to ensure we could develop further if required.”

Selling the Woodspring Stadium, which has been the Seagulls’ home since it moved from nearby Woodspring Park in 2004, would see the club move further away from the town centre – an issue a few fans raised on Sunday.

Oli said the board was currently split between moving to a new site or redeveloping its current ground.

He said the idea of expanding the facilities at the Woodspring Stadium has been discussed for a while and finding ways of getting funding for it had been investigated.

Manager Craig Laird said the prospect of moving to a new stadium was one that would excite fans.

He said: “It would be great for the people of Weston. The chairman has done an absolutely fantastic job to move the club up to the end on the non-league pyramid.

“The board is looking to the future and when my and Paul’s time is up, he will leave a legacy for people to enjoy.”

He said the squad has been training at Worle Community School this week because of the snow, but a new complex would make the club a more attractive proposition.

He added: “On aesthetics it is easier to sell the club to players with good training facilities and our own medical centre.

“On the other side of things, the extra finances would be brilliant in helping to bring in new players.”

Oli said the plans are only in their preliminary stages and the club would consult with fans before a final decision is made.

Weston College was asked to comment on the plans but failed to reply before the Mercury went to press.

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