STALYBRIDGE Celtic are resigned to ambitious plans to redevelop Bower Fold being put on hold following the death of Cllr Kieran Quinn, executive leader of Tameside Council.
The club had hoped to install an artificial pitch this summer as the first phase of the seven-figure development that is key to the future of the club.
But club chairman Rob Gorski cannot envisage the redevelopment getting under way imminently as he has yet to meet new executive leader Cllr Brenda Warrington to discuss the plans that also involves building a new social club/banqueting suite in the second phase that had been scheduled summer of 2019.
Mr Gorski, who warned that the club will die if it doesn’t change, had two “really positive meetings” in December with Cllr Quinn and Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde.
He said: “We had two thirds agreed a memorandum of understanding but we will have to start again as I don’t know Brenda and she doesn’t know me.
“I am keen to sit down with Brenda and the new executive board because I truly believe we have a great story to tell.
“My vision is to have a community facility at Bower Fold and for it not simply to be a football club.”
Mr Gorski, who had initially hoped to relocate to a new stadium near Stalybridge railway station, explained that in one of Tameside’s own reports it stated 48-per-cent of residents have to go outside the borough to use an artificial/plastic pitch.
“When you look at health and obesity targets, I think it is in the local authority’s interests to have a new artificial pitch that residents of Tameside can utilise,” he explained.
Mr Gorski added there isn’t a banqueting facility in Tameside so that would also fill a void.
The new two-storey building behind the goal would include a facility for up to 600 people and also incorporate a creche and lecture rooms for the academy players.
He pointed out Stalybridge Foundation, through its charitable status, already works with the Alzheimer Society, Help The Aged and NHS Trust.
Celtic would hope to generate a sizeable proportion of the funding through grants from the Football Foundation, Sport England and the National Lottery.
Mr Gorski continued: “The development would cost a seven-figure sum, but the beauty of that half of the funding would be an injection of cash into the community through external funding.
“That would be great for the community and great for the council, something Kieran recognised and I hope it will be the same when I present our case to Brenda.
“It would give the community of Stalybridge a facility they can use and enjoy. It would be great for the community, great for the council and great for the football club.”
Mr Gorski told fans at a forum that clubs at their level cannot survive on gates of 300.
He conceded he would have to relinquish the majority of the 999-year lease on Bower Fold in return for Tameside Council funding, but would not let it go for the £275,000 that had been mentioned.