Video: 150 year lease will secure Wrexham Football Club in ‘heart of town’ on new Groves training ground
Wrexham Council and Wrexham Football Club are working in partnership to deliver a 150 year lease for a new training ground on the former Groves school site.
Our video from earlier today can be below, with both club director and council leader answering some questions…
Speaking today Cllr Mark Pritchard, leader of Wrexham Council, said: “If you follow football in Wrexham, you’ll know that Wrexham AFC have been training on land at Nine Acre, in Maesydre, since the summer of 2017.
“During their time training on the Nine Acre field, we at Wrexham Council have worked with them to support a proposal for a new training ground.
“We’ve now helped them to complete this proposal for a new purpose built, long-term training venue, which will make sure they have a site suitable for professional football well into the future – and also allow us to more forward with plans for town centre schooling.
“Subject to approvals, addressing current conditions and legal requirements for the site, it is hoped that the club could begin training on grounds at the former Groves school in 2020.
“Freeing up Nine Acre will allow us to move on with plans for a new town centre primary school, which previously would have been located on or near the former Groves.
The plans will be on the field site to the right of the still standing school building, Cllr Prichard added: “Although there are no plans for the redevelopment of the listed Groves school, the building will still be an asset in the council’s education department, surplus to requirements.
“This council has always stressed its ambition to create a new primary school in the town centre and that goal was at the forefront of our discussions around plans for the former Groves school.
“We’ve worked very closely with the club to assess the initial suitability of the Groves site for a new training ground, and I’d like to thank them for their co-operation throughout this process.”
Cllr Pritchard added: “Football – and Wrexham AFC in particular – plays such an important part in the day-to-day life of Wrexham and this work marks the start of much closer working between ourselves and the club.”
Cllr Phil Wynn, lead member for education, added: “Wrexham Council is delighted to be working with Wrexham AFC to provide them with a new training site near the former Groves and freeing up Nine Acre with a view to putting a 21st century school on that site instead.”
Spencer Harris, director of Wrexham AFC, said the proximity between the Racecourse and the Groves site will allow the club to “remain right at the heart of the town”.
He continued: “Creation of a purpose-built training venue with two brand new pitches suitable for a professions football club is the next step in reinstating the infrastructure needed for future success.
“We have been working to build a long lasting positive partnership with Wrexham Council and the Groves site has huge potential for us.
“The proximity to the Racecourse and the town centre location means that Wrexham AFC can remain right at the heart of the town.
The Groves site has had a high profile past in recent history, Coleg Cambria’s interest dissected here which then was withdrawn during a council meeting, with promises the site would be used for one or two schools as recently as last year, with more recent use being a homeless camp. Sports use for part of the site is not new, with the 2016 plans ‘phase two’ being focussed on sport.
Wrexham built, owned and trained on Colliers Park, however due to what is widely referred to by fans as an ‘asset strip’ by previous owners the facility was split from Wrexham Football Club.
Last year a licence was issued by Wrexham Council for the club to move from their temporary training facility in Stansty to the Nine Acre field off Chester Road. However this is set to change with the club’s move to the Groves site – with Nine Acre field now being mooted as the potential future location of a primary school.
Recently the club signed a new 99 year lease for use of the Racecourse Stadium, again a facility that used to be owned by the club before the actions of previous owners removed it. Wrexham Glyndwr University purchased the Racecourse Ground and Colliers back in 2011 for £1.8m in a move that was seen as a partial enabler for the Wrexham Supporters Trust to purchase the then debt ridden club for a token £1.
This year also saw the sale of the Wrexham Village student development by previous club owners to the University for a sum believed to be into the eight figure range.
Then club owners and current Wrexham Village directors Geoff Moss a travel agent from Farndon and Ian Roberts from Ruthin based ‘Roberts Homes’ facilitated the development of the flats by selling the then carpark of the club to a company they themselves owned to build the flats on. The ‘businessmen’ subsequently sold the Racecourse ground itself to Glyndwr University and debt laden club to fans owned group Wrexham Supporters Trust.
The club itself which was sold for a pound to the WST was at the time in a £442,000 black hole at the time of purchase. Information released after the purchase of the club by the Wrexham Supporters Trust revealed a £100,000 cash injection from the WST to keep the company going during the drawn out purchase saga. Another part of the debt left included a £24k VAT bill that was unpaid, and a £129,986 loan due to Roberts Homes – former owner Ian Roberts’ company.
The student flats are controversial for Wrexham football club fans, as they were clearly told all profits were due to go into the club, but they were since told the club will ‘not see a penny more’ and has had all it will have ‘upfront’.
We will have full video from earlier today when we asked a few questions about the proposals so check back later….
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