FOOTBALL bosses have handed a Swindon sports charity £1 million towards a new all-weather pitch and clubhouse.
Swindon Town Football in the Community Trust won planning permission in March for the new football and athletics facilities, which will be built at the County Ground.
The £1m grant from the Premier League and FA Facilities Fund will mean STFIC is able to begin work on the £2.2m project.
Jon Holloway, head of STFIC, said: “We are delighted that we have secured funding from the Premier League & FA Facilities Fund to build this new community facility.
“It is great to know that the Premier League and the FA have embraced our vision to create an inspirational facility in the heart of Swindon and this fantastic news is another major milestone towards making our dream a reality.
“We can now very much look forward to work commencing onsite within the next few months and the opening of this facility in the early months of 2019.”
STFIC is the charity wing of Swindon Town FC, running training courses for children, adults with disabilities and football fans keen to lose weight.
The facilities scheme has also been supported by the Swindon Harriers athletics club, currently based at the County Ground athletics track, who can look forward to using the new club house facilities.
It is backed by Swindon Borough Council. Last night, Coun Gary Sumner, cabinet member for strategic planning, said: “This funding announcement is fantastic news and is just reward for the hard work put in by Jon Holloway and the Trust team as well as council officers. It means we can now look forward to creating a state-of-the-art facility we can all be proud of.
“Our landscape, leisure and planning teams have worked hard to engage the public so we can deliver an outstanding scheme with the Trust, which will benefit the whole community for many years to come.”
While the news is expected to be welcomed by sports fans, the scheme has not been without its critics.
Last year, dog walkers who exercise their pets in the park hit out at the plans. Julie Collins, of Shrivenham Road, said: “There’s somebody out there all the time. It will be an awful loss to the community.
“This was supposed to be left by the Goddard family for the people of Swindon. It’s just being taken away from us.”