IN May, when Cheshire FA unveiled a proposal to build facilities they claim will attract international attention, they also stressed nobody will be left out.

“Our aim is to significantly increase opportunities for all participants, be they individuals or clubs,” said chairman Dave Edmunds.

He has stuck to his word.

On Thursday, 1874 Northwich told members at their annual meeting they have reached an initial agreement that could lead to them becoming tenants at a new stadium as part of the £70m development.

Amid the excitement, there was some caution too.

“There’s a long way to go,” said Alex Dickinson, who sits on the club’s board.

So what do we know?

Where will the hub be built?

An exact location has not been announced.

Stuart Manifould, business development and operations manager at Cheshire FA, reaffirmed the governing body’s aspiration for it to be ‘within the Northwich boundary’.

However that is not guaranteed.

“Things are being added to the project all the time,” he said.

“The challenge is to find somewhere big enough.”

The specification is a long one: a 3,000 capacity stadium, six grass pitches, three 3G pitches, two Premier League-standard hybrid pitches and a five-star hotel.

Is an announcement close?


Cheshire FA have said a list of potential plots is down to two and they hope to have a further update early next year.

Who is paying for it?

Of course, £70m is a lot of money.

The bill will be split between a range of sources from inside and outside of the game, and funding agreements are in place subject to a site being secured.

While a partner for the project, Cheshire West and Chester Council are not contributing to the building costs.

Manifould said: “No money has been committed by the council, and so tax-players don’t need to worry!”

So when will it be ready?

Ideally, by June 2021.

That would allow 1874 Northwich to begin the 2021-2022 campaign at the new stadium at the end of a two-year ground-share with Barnton at Townfield Lane.

Completion then would also be in time for the UEFA Women’s European Championship, which the English FA hopes to host.

“It would be great to have a couple of teams stay in Northwich,” said Manifould.

Who is going to run it?

Cheshire FA have said they intend to set up a separate body to operate the site on their behalf.

The revenue generated, or at least a significant percentage of it, will be spent by the governing body and Active Cheshire on improving facilities and provision in other parts of the county.

“In a way we’re trying to play the part of Robin Hood,” said Manifould.

“We’ll put back the money we make, or the majority of it, into grassroots sport.”

I thought it was a hub for women and girls only?

No, it’s not, and Cheshire FA have repeated again this week that the project’s mantra is ‘Football For All’ and an arrangement with a non-league club is only one example.

Manifould said: “This is not a site just for women.

“However we are proud that it will be a beacon for the development of that part of the game.”

Indeed, the governing body confirmed in May it had been in discussions with a Women’s Super League One side to become a partner for the scheme.

Could other teams join 1874 Northwich as tenants at the stadium?

In short, yes.

The memorandum of understanding Cheshire FA have with 1874 Northwich is not exclusive, according to Manifould, although he did confirm nobody else had reached that stage.

He added: “We’re not talking to other clubs at the moment.”