REDDITCH United boss Liam McDonald believes it is an “extremely exciting time to be a Redditch United supporter” after the club this week revealed a superb £900,000 project which will transform the Valley Stadium.
The Reds have been awarded a £561,000 grant from the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund which, along with additional funding, will kick-start a major scheme that will see the club install a 3G artificial grass pitch, revamp facilities including a new bar and changing rooms and continue to expand the number of teams to nearly 60 junior, women’s and disabled sides.
Work at the ground is due to begin in early May and is scheduled to be completed in time for the start of the 2016/17 season and the opening of the newly-launched Redditch United Football Academy, all of which is a superb tonic for the club ahead of its 125th anniversary season.
Redditch United has also managed to secure £88,166 from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund – a partner organisation to the Football Foundation which is solely funded by the Premier League – and a further £225,000 has come from Reds chairman Chris Swan.
McDonald has been keen to introduce players from the Reds’ reserves and under 18 teams into the first team during his time in charge and believes this project will only serve to enhance the club’s burgeoning reputation as a producer of homegrown talent.
“From a first team perspective, it will be fantastic for us to be able to train and work on the 3G pitch because, due to the condition of the current pitch, we have to spend time and money training elsewhere and that is not great.
“Now, we will be able to train on a much better surface, as will the club’s other adult sides, and this can only benefit the first team.
“Further down than that, it’s fantastic news for the young boys’ and girls’ teams we have here, which continue to increase in numbers and will be producing players of the future for Redditch United.
“I’ve got to say well done to Chris (Swan) for all of this. I always say that, really, as a manager you can only be as good as your chairman and Chris has been great to work for. This type of project has been an ambition of his since he came here and he’s pretty much done things from the bottom up.
“I asked him to give me two to three years to turn the first team around and we’ve gone from the bottom end of the division to promotion challengers. He’s invested plenty of his own time and money and at times it’s been a thankless task.
“It’s an extremely exciting time to be a Redditch fan, whether we win promotion or not. Next season is going to be tremendously exciting and we firmly believe these better facilities will make the first team stronger and bring through the next generations of players to represent the club and in some cases go beyond us.”
Swan said it was an exciting time as the 125-year-old club looked towards a bright new future by offering education, employment and solid community links.
He said: “We are grateful to the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund and to Redditch Borough Council for helping us realise our exciting plans to improve grassroots sport in the area.
“We will be adding to our already extensive community section, forging new strategic partnerships with Birmingham City Ladies and West Bromwich Albion and creating an exciting new football academy offering students a pathway to university or the chance to follow in the footsteps of the six players who have left us to move into full-time football over the last 18 months.
“We are creating a number of full and part-time jobs and our facilities will be some of the best in the region. As we start out on our next 125 years, we have a plan in place to ensure future generations will be able to enjoy the football and the facilities at the Valley Stadium for years to come.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “Since 2000, the foundation has supported 514 grassroots sports projects worth more than £56m across the Birmingham County FA region. This latest grant for Redditch United will benefit not just Redditch but a whole host of clubs and schools in the surrounding areas.”