NEW PLANS have been unveiled which could safeguard the future of Redditch United – if they win the backing of the borough council.
The club is currently working on plans to tear up its Valley Stadium pitch and replace it with a state-of-the-art 3G artificial playing surface, as well as additional changing rooms.
The £700,000 scheme will allow the number of the club’s junior teams to be increased from 30 to 50 and the disabled side to return to play in Redditch rather than in Birmingham. It will also allow the club to rent the pitch out to the community which will put it on a sustainable financial footing.
Currently chairman Chris Swan is using £60,000 of his own money every year to keep the club afloat.
The plans replace proposals to relocate the club to Washford and sell the existing stadium off Bromsgrove Road for housing, after Redditch Borough Council refused to sanction the deal saying it would carry too much financial risk.
Other potential options looked at in the past included installing the 3G pitch on the neighbouring Terry’s Field, as previously replacing the main pitch with an artificial surface would have prevented the club from being promoted. But a rule change by clubs in the Conference Premier and North – the two divisions above Redditch United – means that is no longer a barrier.
Talks have been held with FA chiefs about funding for the project and they have indicated they are supportive. However even if the organisation did commit money, it is expected between £400,000 and £500,000 will still need to be raised locally.
Mr Swan told the Standard the club was working with the borough council, which owns the land, to work up the proposal as their support was still key in terms of lease and rent arrangements which would allow them to source external funding.
“The decision of the Conference was a game changer because there was no point putting a 3G pitch in place if we could not get promoted.” he said.
“If we get it in place then it will mean the club is sustainable, it will provide a fantastic facility for the people of Redditch and for our 30 kids teams which will grow to 50 as soon as we have got this facility.
“There is no downside, we are not asking the council for a penny, we are just asking them to support us with lease arrangements and other things like that to be able to secure the 3G pitch on the main surface.”
It is hoped a proposal could be put to councillors by next March which would allow planning permission to be sought, with a view to having the new pitch in place by August 2016.