The future of Newport Football Club is looking bright after a site for a new home was earmarked.
South Coast Leisure has been working with the club to relocate it from its current site at St George’s Park.
The plans by South Coast Leisure will provide the football club with a new floodlit grass pitch, main stand and bar/function room facilities on land off The Racecourse near Fairlee Road.
The new ground will include adequate parking facilities on site, be fully accessible to the disabled and will provide a designated viewing area for the public with additional needs within the main clubhouse.
South Coast Leisure said the new ground would be floodlit using the latest ‘low throw’ lighting systems and will be constructed to meet the Football Association’s Category D ground grading – higher than the current club’s requirements of an F grading. This would enable Newport FC to play up to Step 4 level of the National League System which is Southern Football League Division 1.
South Coast Leisure (SCL) own Newport’s current St George’s Park and have allowed the club to play there free of charge while a long-term sustainable future is decided. The land at St George’s Park is required for future development.
SCL hopes that, subject to the planning process, the new football stadium, which would also be on a main bus route, could be built and ready to use for the start of the 2018/19 season.
As well as providing a permanent home for Newport FC, the new venture also includes features to encourage wider community use including facilities for disability football and womens and youth football.
Paul Airey, SCL’s Planning Consultant, said:
“After an extensive search over a long period of time in which many sites were considered we have now identified and secured a site that offers a really bright future for Newport Football Club.
“We have been in close contact with club officials in developing these proposals. These plans will allow Newport FC to move forward as a community-focussed club playing in a brand new, sustainable, stadium with top quality facilities and pitch.
“We will continue to work with the club and its supporters and also with the residents who live near the proposed site of the new ground. We want to make sure this opportunity provides Newport and the wider community with the best possible sporting facility.”
Stuart Ross, chairman of Newport Football Club, said:
“We would like to thank South Coast Leisure for their support over many years.
“The club has been working closely with SCL to develop these plans to ensure they meet the required Category D ground grading specifications and are fit for purpose for the club.
“On behalf of Newport FC, I will continue my negotiations with SCL in order for this new development to provide the club and the wider Isle of Wight community with a long term sustainable future which is hugely important. We are very close to this which is magnificent. This is a chance for the club to end years of uncertainly and settle into a new home that will offer top class facilities.
“We have to move quickly for the start of the 2018/19 season, but we have a plan which, if approved, will finally see the club playing in a ground that can thrive both in terms of its football and in developing and strengthening links with the Islands community.”
IW Council leader Dave Stewart, said:
“The council knows how important Newport FC is to its supporters and the local community and is very keen to see it find a home in a sustainable and high- quality new ground. South Coast Leisure has shown in the past that it has the best interests of the club at heart, so I look forward to finding out more about these proposals.”
IW Council chief executive John Metcalfe, said:
“I know that both the club and SCL have for many years been investigating how the club could move on, so we welcome the submission of these plans for due consideration by the planning process.”
The proposed new ground, which lies in the Newport North electoral ward, is bordered by the Racecourse, Whippingham Road and East Cowes Road off which the access will be provided.