Cheshire FA can has confirmed that, after extensive research across the area, it has identified Knights Grange in Winsford as its preferred site for a proposed elite performance centre and centre of excellence for women’s and girl’s football.
This will be the first major facility of its kind in Europe, and profits generated from the site are expected to be re-invested back into grassroots football and the wider sporting community.
Bosses say this will help to promote healthy and active lifestyles in the area.
The new multi-million pound football and leisure facility will be developed on the former Knights Grange Golf Club in Winsford.
It will create many jobs, attract thousands of visitors a year and enable investment into community sports facilities.
Louise Gear, head of women’s participation for The FA, commented: “We’re delighted this exciting project is now in the next stages of development.
“It’s great for the local community, its very presence will help raise the profile of women’s football and provide excellent facilities to play all formats of the game.”
The project will be developed through collaboration between Cheshire FA, Cheshire West & Chester Council and ION Developments as well as national sporting facilities grant providers.
Cheshire FA also confirmed that it is working in partnership with a Women’s Super League team with a view to becoming tenants of the new site for training and FA Women’s Super League matches.
Women’s football is the fastest growing sport globally, and this team will be the first female team in the country to have their own purpose-built performance centre.
FA bosses were keen to point out that the project will also be of huge benefit to the local community.
It’s anticipated the site will help to support grassroots football development and deliver wider health and wellbeing benefits.
The public will have access to high quality facilities and opportunities to get active and take part in a range of activities to suit all abilities.
Facilities on the site will include:
- Elite performance training facilities
- 3,000 capacity football stadium, including 1,000 seats
- Elite quality 3G outdoor football pitches
- Elite quality indoor 3G football pitch, the first of its kind available to the grassroots community
- A high quality sports medical facility for rehabilitation, preventative and precautionary care of elite athletes and sports participants
- A luxury ‘destination’ hotel and spa, wellbeing and conferencing facility
- An ‘Urban Attack’ outdoor adventure and adventurous public attraction
- Classroom and education facilities to help support and encourage sixth form, university or college courses
- Office and catering facilities as well as high quality changing areas for grassroots teams using the site
Stuart Manifould, project director at Cheshire FA, commented: “We want to create a world class sports facility that is at the heart of the local community.
“During our feasibility process we reviewed over 30 site locations. Knights Grange gives us an opportunity to invest into Winsford as a town and contribute to regenerating the area.
“This facility will have national and international significance in football as well as providing outstanding facilities for community use.
“We are really looking forward to working with the Council and local residents to maximise this opportunity and deliver a scheme that carries wide ranging benefits.”
Councillor Louise Gittins, CWAC cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, added: “This bold and ambitious project will be a great asset for the local community.
“A project of this size and design has never been done before. Never before has a local council and a county FA worked together to create a facility like this.
“It will offer similar facilities to those at St George’s Park in Staffordshire where the England national football team trains.”
Eddisbury MP Antoinette Sandbach also welcomed the announcement.
Ms Sandbach said: “I am delighted to have helped bring a world-class football facility to Winsford.
“The centre will play a vital role in the future development of women’s football in the United Kingdom, improving opportunities for all those involved in the game at every level.
The new facility will also create a legacy for the community that can have a positive impact for generations to come.”
The formal development requires that 110 acres are to be made available for the public to use for walking, fishing and outdoor leisure pursuits.
The new hub will feature high quality professional standard grass and 3G pitches, stadia with up to 3,000 seat capacity as well as community facilities.
These will include five community grass pitches and the UK’s first permanent outdoor adventure activity centre.
It will also feature a 150-bed luxury hotel, spa and gym development.
In addition to providing a training base and facilities for international and professional teams, the hub will become a specialist centre for women and girls’ football, providing a pathway for female players from the age of 5 to professional level.