Owner re­veals his plans for Yel­lows

Southport Visiter - - Front Page - BY JAMIE LOPEZ jamie.lopez@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @jamie_lopez1

SOUTH­PORT FC’s new­est di­rec­tor, Phil Hodgkin­son, has re­vealed the club will carry out ma­jor work to mod­ernise the Merseyrail Com­mu­nity Sta­dium.

The work will be­gin next sum­mer, with the main stand to be stripped out and re­fit­ted.

As well as new seats in the club’s yel­low and black colours, a new roof will be in­stalled, re­plac­ing the cur­rent leaky one, and new dugouts will also be fit­ted.

The fa­cil­i­ties in­side the stand will also un­dergo ma­jor ren­o­va­tion to be­come more modern and fit for pur­pose.

The play­ers will ben­e­fit from new chang­ing rooms, while sup­port­ers and spon­sors will be able to en­joy an im­proved Grand­stand Bar and cor­po­rate fa­cil­i­ties.

The plans for the main stand have been fully costed, with ar­chi­tect’s draw­ings to be re­leased in the com­ing weeks, and will be fi­nanced through a £350,000 spon­sor­ship from Mr Hodgkin­son’s Pure Le­gal Group.

The fa­cil­i­ties are ex­pected to be in place by the start of the 2018/19 sea­son, with the stand re­named as the Pure Le­gal Group Main Stand.

Mr Hodgkin­son, who joined the club’s board in Septem­ber, has also out­lined plans to build a cov­ered stand op­po­site the Main Stand, big enough to hold 1,300 spec­ta­tors and with cor­po­rate fa­cil­i­ties for 200 peo­ple.

This would mean, as well as giv­ing shel­ter on the pop­u­lar side for the first time in many years, the fa­cil­ity could at­tract more rev­enue on match days and through­out the rest of week.

The new cor­po­rate and of­fice fa­cil­i­ties would dou­ble up to as space for func­tions and events, a clear ex­am­ple of the plans to run the club in a sig­nif­i­cantly more pro­fes­sional way.

It is ex­pected that this sec­ond de­vel­op­ment would cost £500,000, with half funded through grants and the other half to be funded through spon­sor­ship from another nearby busi­ness.

The club are also ex­plor­ing sites to build a train­ing fa­cil­ity with a mix­ture of 4G and grass pitches. As well as ben­e­fit­ing the first team, this would also en­able the cre­ation of a for­mal acad­emy in­volv­ing a link to a lo­cal col­lege, though those as­pects of the plan re­main in their in­fancy.

In the mean­time, South­port FC are set to re­turn to train­ing at Edge Hill Univer­sity in Orm­skirk and are due to re­turn to full-time sta­tus next sea­son.

When he first an­nounced his in­ter­est in in­vest­ing in South­port, Mr Hodgkin­son – a self-made mil­lion­aire – out­lined de­tailed plans for the club, in­clud­ing build­ing a new sta­dium. All those plans re­main, sub­ject to agree­ment with the other board mem­bers, though the fact that he ar­rived mid-sea­son rather than in the sum­mer has length­ened the process.

He now says he plans to hold a ma­jor event in the town to launch the club’s de­tailed plan for the com­ing years to sup­port­ers, res­i­dents and busi­nesses as part of a bid to bring the club back to the cen­tre of the com­mu­nity.

He said: “A new sta­dium is still the plan but the re­al­ity is there’s no point spend­ing mil­lions build­ing a new sta­dium if the sup­port isn’t there in the town.

“We’ve got to be­gin a huge re-en­gage­ment process af­ter years of medi­ocrity and the re­al­ity is we’ve got eight months to do as much as we can be­fore the start of next sea­son.

“We’ve got big plans for the foot­ball club and we’re de­ter­mined to do things prop­erly.

“It may take a lit­tle longer than we’d like but we will def­i­nitely get there.”

The Main Stand at Haig Road will un­dergo a com­plete trans­for­ma­tion

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