Study to look at viability of new stadium

Shielfield Park
Shielfield Park
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BERWICK Rangers have appointed consultants to look at the feasibility of building a new purpose-built stadium for the club.

The club is keen to explore the viability of a move away from its current home at Shielfield Park and has identified a potential site in Tweedmouth.

It has now brought in leading architecture and design practice the Frank Whittle Partnership (FWP) to examine the options.

Club chairman Brian Porteous said: “Shielfield is an old stadium and we realise it is not ideally suited to our needs. It is not going to be around for ever and one day will probably need a lot of money spent on it.

“We are planning to conduct a feasibility survey to see how viable an option of moving to an alternative site in the town would be, but I would stress this is at a very early stage and no definite decision has been made.”

The club is said to be in negotiations over the possibility of buying a greenfield site between the Tesco supermarket and East Ord roundabout.

However, no date has been set for a decision on whether the club, which has just announced a profit for the second year running, will make the move.

FWP has a strong track-record of working with clubs on ways to finance stadium development plans and in creating community facilities that help create revenue.

It has carried out similar exercises for a number of clubs including Carlisle United. Its portfolio of sports stadium work includes the regeneration of Preston North End’s Deepdale ground and new stands at Peterborough United and Oldham Athletic.

It has been involved in a number of community-based projects – including the development of Fleetwood Town’s Highbury ground and has also designed and created new facilities for a number of non-league clubs such as Barrow and AFC Fylde with more in the pipeline.

FWP’s sporting work is not just confined to football. The practice has worked on major redevelopment plans at RU club Leicester Tigers’ Welford Road ground and has designed and developed facilities at a number of racecourses, including Doncaster and Chester.

Richard McGonigal, senior architect at FWP, said: “We have been asked by Berwick Rangers to look into the feasibility of creating a new, modern stadium on land they have identified in the area.

“The kind of facility they are looking at would be tailored towards the club’s needs both on and off the pitch.

“We will be looking at all aspects of the project, including possible sources of funding to enable development to take place. The project is at a very early stage.

“As with all the sporting projects of this kind that we have been involved in, we will look to create a masterplan that will not only deliver a modern stadium for spectators and players alike, but will be a real asset to the local community.

“We believe it is important for clubs that football grounds of this type are not just used once a fortnight on match day, but are able to generate revenue and be of use on all days of the week.”

Berwick have played at Shielfield Park since the mid-1950s. The stadium, which is owned by Northumberland County Council, has a capacity of just over 4,000.