A PROPOSED £70m football hub in the town could become a home for 1874 Northwich.

The club told members at their annual meeting on Thursday that they have been in discussions with Cheshire FA to become long-term tenants at the site, which the governing body hopes will open in 2021.

They would host opponents at a 3,000 capacity stadium there and train on one of the Premier League-standard pitches nearby.

“It’s not a given but we’ve taken the first steps,” said Alex Dickinson, an 1874 board member.

The two parties have signed a memorandum of understanding that would become a formal arrangement once building is complete.

The Guardian understands that 1874 approached Cheshire FA in the days after plans for the facility, which include an aspiration for a leading Women’s Super League club to be a partner, were first announced.

They met shortly after that, and have done regularly since.

A non-disclosure agreement has prevented either side from acknowledging as much.

“There has been some frustration we haven’t been able to say anything sooner,” said Stuart Manifould, business and operations manager at Cheshire FA.

“But from my point of view, and this is a personal opinion, I wanted to work with 1874 for many of the reasons you have demonstrated to me [during this meeting].

“We’ve done our due diligence, and so has the club. A lot of hard work goes into that.

“It’s great we’ve reached this point, and I can tell you we’re really happy.”

In addition to the stadium, Vision 20/20, as it has been branded by Cheshire FA, includes plans for a five-star hotel, three 3G pitches – one of them covered – and two high-specification hybrid pitches.

It is anticipated the project, which Manifould insisted will be even bigger than St George’s Park, will be an attractive option as an overnight base for professional teams playing matches in the area given Manchester and Liverpool are a short drive away.

“We’re lucky those cities are nearby and the clubs there play Premier League and European fixtures regularly,” he added.

The site’s precise location cannot be revealed yet.

Manifould said that a list of potential plots has been as long as half-a-dozen but is now down to two.

A preferred option, identified last year, has been ruled out.

He added: “We’re trying to make sure it’s within the Northwich boundary.

“This is a beast that has grown legs, and things are being added to it all the time.

“The challenge is to find somewhere big enough.”

The club’s supporters will be asked to give their blessing once an announcement is made, probably early next year.

1874 have played home games at Barton Stadium in Winsford since they were formed in 2012.

However that arrangement will come to an end in May when a new one, lasting initially for two seasons, starts with Barnton.

That ground-share can be extended if the Cheshire FA facility isn’t ready.

Manifould said: “We’d ask you to be patient from here.”