OLDHAM Athletic must move to a new £20 million stadium in Failsworth to save the club from collapse, insist its owners.
Unveiling plans for the 30-acre site off Broadway — which went before Oldham Council’s Cabinet for approval this week — Latics chiefs said the club is haemorrhaging money in a crumbling stadium and must move to become financially viable.
The club and council’s regeneration proposals mean building family houses at Boundary Park.
Latics hope to quell the fears of local groups by reaching an agreement for them to use the new development — while 15 allotment holders will be offered compensation and 20 new plots, possibly on land across the road.
The credit crunch has made it impossible to fund building flats, killing off the club’s previous plans to build 693 homes around Boundary Park to finance an £80 million stadium development there.
Instead, the ground will be sold to a private developer to build small family houses, while talks are on-going with the Royal Oldham Hospital for “key worker” homes to be built on the Sheepfoot Lane car park.
Latics managing director and co-owner Simon Corney said: “In its current state, Oldham Athletic is dying.
“Revenue fell 20 per cent again last year and we’re now attracting attendances on a par with many League Two clubs.
“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. I want to reassure residents they will not be living next door to some monstrous and imposing facility.
“People don’t like change but we have to move. The stadium is an embarrassment at the moment. It’s about survival and going forward.”
The amount of seating in the new ground will suffice for their ambitions to become a Championship club and could be extended if Premier League dreams are realised.
Latics chief executive Alan Hardy said: “We’ve spent a long time with the council to find suitable sites within the borough and this is the only one we could find.”
Mr Hardy dismissed concerns that fans would be unwilling to go to Failsworth, saying it’s part of Oldham.
note; As a long standing Latics fan, my personal view is that Mr Hardy and the board are to be applauded for their efforts. You only have to look around other clubs in League 1, like MK Dons, Colchester and Southend to see the difference a new purpose built, modern arena can make. I for one can't wait and hopefuly most Oldham fans will take a positive supporting stance. John Booth - Director FootballTradeDirectory.com