Wrexham Football Club have gained permission to use the 9 Acre field for training after being required to leave both Colliers Park and Stansty Park.
The move emerged via a letter from the current councillor for Maesydre, Carole O’Toole, which was circulated to residents on Monday.
The letter to residents noted: “The Council have been approached by Wrexham Football Club with a view to discussing a licence for them to use the playing field for training purposes only.”
Councillor O’Toole writes how she ‘expressed very strong concerns about the proposal’ citing parking issues on Westminster Drive, which were relayed to Wrexham Football Club.
In return the letter states ‘terms’ are now part of the proposal, including use for training only rather than matches for 42 weeks of the year 4 days a week 11:30am to 2:30pm.
The parking issue looks to have been resolved to the satisfaction of the councillor with the letter saying it has been ‘agreed’ that the mini bus and cars will park on the hard standing on the field.
Wrexham Football Club will maintain the field ‘to the required standard’, however the fencing and trees will remain the responsibility of the council. The club will use the Racecourse as a base, as the facilities on the 9 Acre are used by Wrexham boxing club.
We asked Cllr O’Toole regarding the status of the field, that has previously been referenced as under a lease to Coleg Cambria, and if such a licence application would be a decision for the new council or will be dealt with under delegated powers. Cllr O’Toole referred us back to the Council.
Today Wrexham Council confirmed the club will be using the space for the 2017/18 season.
A spokesperson for Wrexham Council said: “Wrexham AFC will for the 2017/18 season be using 9 Acres for training it’s first team squad and young professionals, but not as a base for the youngsters in the Clubs Centre of Excellence programme.
“The usual pattern of usage will be approximately two or so hours a day, four days per week. The players will continue to change at the Racecourse and will drive to the site, parking within the curtilage of 9 acres itself and thus will not add to the on-road parking in the area.
“Improvements to the surface will be undertaken in the next few weeks by the Club and it’s specialist groundsman.”
Alan Watkin ,Club Director stated “We are delighted as a community owned club to be basing our training in the heart of Wrexham and I would like to thank the County Borough Council for agreeing to this. I would want to make clear that the 9 Acres will not be used for playing any matches.”
Wrexham.com also queried if the 9 Acre was leased to Coleg Cambria (it is not) and if the Boxing Club use would be affected (it will not), and enquired about relevant covenants. There are covenants, however we are told they do not cover the usage of the land.
Wrexham Football Club used to train at the Colliers Park training ground (pictured above), with youth teams still using the facility. Previously Wrexham Glyndwr University have been blamed for ‘wanting access during the day’ and therefore use by the club was incompatible, plus references to rent and maintenance also cited for it no longer being used by the club.
Previously the club had a licence, not lease, to use Colliers and the Racecourse from the University. A new 99 year lease was signed last year for use of the Racecourse, however that agreement did not include Colliers Park.
Wrexham Football Club used to own the Racecourse Ground and Colliers Park, the latter being built at a cost of £750,000 to the club back in 1997. Barcelona famously used the site for training, which at one point was regarded as one of the best outside the Premier League.
There has been well documented issues of previous football club owners, mismanagement and various planning gambles, all of which resulted in the split of the club from not only its ground, but several other assets including Colliers Park.
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.
The latest set of accounts for the club notes a £46k spend on unspecified facilities, plus £19k on the maintenance of the Racecourse. There is a note of ‘facility cost’ rise from £216k to £257k which is likely to be the location of any rental figures – perhaps prompting the new 99 year lease move.
The club have previously used Carden Park for training, and it returned to the ‘spiritual home’ of Stansty this season. It is believed a clash of usage there has prompted the latest hunt for training space.
Last year the FA of Wales and Glyndwr teamed up to offer a course based at Colliers, with Wrexham Council also recently working with the FA Wales in a ‘future football vision and action plan‘ for the town. At the time we asked if Colliers was part of that plan, and at that time we were told it had not yet been discussed.
We asked Wrexham Glyndwr University about Colliers and if the door remained open for usage by the club, they told us: “The university has a long-standing relationship with Wrexham AFC. The club has operational control of the Racecourse stadium on a 99-year lease.
“Colliers Park has a vital role to play in the future of the university as part of its Campus 2025 vision, from a community, sporting and academic perspective.”
Previously Colliers has been mentioned as part of the ‘2025 vision‘, and we asked them similar questions over the local FAW / WCBC action plan, and were told, “We continue to work closely with the FAW and Wrexham Council and are of course happy to explore and discuss future developments that will improve the county’s sporting provision.”