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Oldham Athletic and Oldham Council unveil new stadium vision

Oldham Council and English football club Oldham Athletic have unveiled regeneration plans for a new £20 million football stadium development and community facilities at a 30-acre site. Officials have been working in partnership for several weeks after the economic downturn forced the club to shelve plans to redevelop its current Boundary Park home.

“We haven’t taken the decision to leave Boundary Park lightly – it was our preferred option to redevelop it – but the credit crunch means the land value and market conditions have diminished to an extent that makes that scheme no longer economically viable,” said Simon Corney, managing director and co-owner of Oldham Athletic, which currently plays in Coca-Cola Football League 1, England’s third-tier league. “In its current state Oldham Athletic is dying. Our revenue fell 20% again last year and we’re now attracting attendances on a par with many League 2 clubs [England’s fourth-tier league]. This new vision gives us an opportunity to provide a facility that will create new revenue streams to make the club financially viable and self-sustaining, while also giving supporters a superior matchday experience.”

The new vision is to ‘marry’ two sites to become home to a new stadium with a proposed capacity of around 12,000, plus community sports facilities such as football pitches, and corporate/leisure developments. The League One club would sell its existing Boundary Park home with most of the site likely to be purchased by a private developer of small family homes. Talks are also still ongoing with the Pennine Acute Trust, which runs the Royal Oldham Hospital, which could see ‘key workers’ homes created on the current car park on Sheepfoot Lane. The capital raised would then be used to fund the new development.

“Much work remains to be done on the detail of these plans but I want to reassure local residents they will not be living next door to some monstrous and imposing facility. This will be a community stadium built along the lines of the recent models at Colchester and Shrewsbury, for example, and we look forward to working with them on this exciting scheme,” said Corney.

Subject to Cabinet approval, Oldham Athletic will next commission architects to work up more comprehensive plans. The club then expects to submit a detailed application to be considered by the borough’s Planning Committee by the end of 2009. If successful, it would then sign a 24-month conditional development agreement to undertake construction work on the land owned by Oldham Council. Upon completion, the club would then sign a long-term lease with the local authority.

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