Council, Latics and ORLFC together at announcement of £1m pitch investment
Council, Latics and ORLFC together at announcement of £1m pitch investment
Published: Thursday, 16th March 2023

A new high specification pitch at Boundary Park Stadium is to receive a £1m investment from Oldham Council.

A new high specification pitch at Boundary Park Stadium is to receive a £1m investment from Oldham Council - and will see Oldham Athletic Football Club and Oldham Rugby League Football Club collaborate to enhance community sports provision for the borough.

The collaboration and investment will help unlock opportunities for wider investment that will improve education, health and employment in the area.

It means that larger rugby games can be kept in Oldham - securing the future of rugby in the town.

It will also mean participation in sports and community provision will be increased, a greater range of sports activities can be provided on the site, and travel to other areas can be reduced. 

Oldham Council’s Cabinet is set to agree the funding for the new high specification pitch at its meeting on Monday, 20 March.

Cllr Amanda Chadderton, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “Oldham can boast truly outstanding sporting achievements, with some amazing successes locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. We're well known for netballing and rugby successes, as well as winter sports, cycling, cricket and much more.

"Following the recent purchase of Latics by the Rothwell family, we're also hoping for more success on the football pitch. But these achievements don't happen on their own. They start on playing fields up and down the country. That's why it's vital to support to grassroots sport.

"By investing in young people, and creating better clubs and community facilities in place, we can sow the seeds of a more successful and sustainable sporting future – and to help our people, teams and clubs reach their highest possible potential.”

The Board of Oldham Athletic AFC said: “Since the takeover of the football club last summer, significant time has been invested in developing a wonderful relationship with Oldham Council and Oldham Rugby League Club, and this is a hugely exciting step forward in the strengthening of that bond. 

“As a club, we want to be a focal point in ensuring our town thrives in a sporting capacity and that the many benefits of sport are felt throughout the local community, whether it be through participation or the enjoyment of following a successful team. 

“Like ourselves, Oldham Rugby League Football Club have a proud history and we are thrilled to have this opportunity to work closely with them in pursuit of a bright future for Oldham. 

“As we look forward, the make-up of our pitch will ensure we have a first-class playing surface for football whilst also being able to accommodate additional fixtures. 

“It is our aim to see Boundary Park Stadium become the centrepiece for sporting activity in the town and beyond, achieving our goal of becoming a football club that can say it truly works for the benefit of its community.” 

A spokesperson from Oldham Rugby League Football Club added: “The history of rugby league in Oldham dates back almost 150 years and we view this as a significant juncture in our journey as a club. 

“To have the privilege of returning to Boundary Park Stadium - a sporting venue of great character, tradition and potential - is a real honour and one which provides a huge platform for us to develop. 

“As a sport, rugby league is built upon an ethos which centers around being a friendly, family and community game, and there is no better way to showcase these qualities than by strengthening our ties with Oldham Athletic and friends around the town. 

“Together, we want to work for the greater good of Oldham and ensure our town is once again known for its sporting excellence. 

“We are passionate about creating greater opportunities for young people to get involved in our sport and generate excitement which will help drive our club forward.” 

A new higher specification pitch at Boundary Park will unlock wider opportunities not just for football and rugby, but also more widely with new education, health, and jobs opportunities.

Currently, there is a limited number of community pitches across the borough and ORLFC has been restricted in their ability to host larger games and accommodate all their supporters at their current training facilities.

Whenever the club has any success, it has to move out of the borough, reducing the opportunity for supporters to watch games.

There is an agreement in principle between OAFC and ORLFC for the rugby club to play its first team matches on the Boundary Park pitch from the 2024 season (starting in February 2024) onwards.

The quality of the current pitch needs to be upgraded for use on a significantly increased number of occasions (100 plus a year) by a range of users.

This collaborative proposal also provides enhanced economic and social advantages to retaining these important matches within the borough.

The enhanced pitch facilities would also be available for use by Oldham schools and colleges to provide a wider range of community pitch availability. 

A report that is being considered by Cabinet at its next meeting can be seen in full here.

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