Plans to create a Welsh Football Museum in Wrexham have taken a local step forward – but there was disagreement from some councillors over where it should be located.
Earlier this year Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM, deputy minister for culture, sport and tourism announced that “developing new facilities at Wrexham Museum would be the best option to create a showcase for our football heritage.”
It is anticipated that visitor numbers could reach 80,000 a year.
Speaking at yesterday’s meeting Cllr Hugh Jones, deputy leader of Wrexham Council said the plans demonstrate that “Wrexham is becoming a significantly important place regionally and nationally.”
It was also explained that there is significant expertise within the staff at the museum who have proctively built up a collection of football memorabilia over the years.
However there were calls from some councillors to have the new facility situated in the Racecourse, rather than in the Wrexham Museum, something that was raised in a media brief with the Chief Executive of Wrexham Council last week.
Cllr Marc Jones, Grosvenor ward, said in the Executive Board meeting yesterday that he hoped to see the museum one day feature as part of a “regenerated Racecourse.”
He continued: “Four years ago we put this forward as a suggestion, a bit of kite flying if you like.
“We launched it in the Racecourse with Peter Jones from Wrexham Supporters Trust and the club and we gradually built support for this idea.
“We’ve ensured money has gone into the Welsh Government’s budget to fund this and I think it’s a great example of partnership working.
“Initially we had a struggle on our hands to argue that we wanted a football museum in the first place, secondly that it should be in Wrexham and thirdly that it should be part of the Racecourse regeneration.
“We’ve won two of those arguments, yes we do need a national football museum, yes we do need it to be based in Wrexham, we haven’t quite managed to secure the third one yet, but I’m not quite going to give up on that quite yet despite what’s in the report.”
Cllr Graham Rogers, Hermitage ward, called for an ‘interim museum’ at the Wrexham Museum, with the aim of eventually relocating to the Racecourse.
He added: “Many people come to support teams, both away and home supporters will have the opportunity on site to visit the museum.”
But Cllr Hugh Jones pointed out that they shouldn’t be “squabbling” over where the museum is located and that councillors should be working together to try and deliver the project.
He also noted that an interim museum would be “expensive and not economically viable”.
Cllr Jones revealed that the football supports the existing museum move rather than any location in the Racecourse footprint, “The football club agree with the recommendation of the independent consultants that the Wrexham Museum is the right place as opposed to the Racecourse.
“In terms of the true partnership working that we have been talking about, we’re going to work in partnership with the football club. They support the recommendation it should come to Wrexham Museum, so we shouldn’t be battling against them, we should be working in partnership with them.
“There are a number of significant logistic reasons if it were to go into the Racecourse it would take up space they need for other revenue generating opportunities.
“When you have independent consultant that comes up with recommendation that clearly states that Wrexham Museum is the best location. That recommendation is then accepted by the Welsh Government, why would we want to battle against it?”
“We have to embrace the recommendation from the Welsh Government and we have to be proud of the fact that we have a museum that has been recognised as having the potential to deliver the National Football Museum for Wales.”
Executive board members unanimously voted in favour of authorising officers to enter into discussions over creating a Football Museum at Wrexham to and proceed with a design scheme.
They also agreed to authorise officers to apply to Welsh Government and the National Lottery Heritage Fund for support.
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