St Ives Town want to transform their Westwood Road home with the installation of a 3G pitch as part of a big-money project.
Chairman Gary Clarke exclusively revealed his grand plan for the Southern League Premier Division Central side – expected to cost well over half-a-million pounds – to the Hunts Post.
Saints were granted planning permission to develop their Westwood Road base more than a year ago and that will remain active until 2022, but Clarke and the club’s board of directors have been unable to find suitable land in the town to build a new stadium.
Therefore they have decided to stay put and instead invest in the current home with a state-of-the-art playing surface and a major upgrade of their clubhouse.
Clarke said: “Our advisors did a fantastic job in securing planning permission for the development of Westwood Road and in identifying a new site for the club on Somersham Road.
“Unfortunately it is no longer viable for us to move to that location and it has become nigh on impossible to find another suitable location in St Ives for a new stadium.
“Our view that the club cannot grow at our present location and with our current facilities has not changed, which led the Board to look at ways in which we can re-develop Westwood Road.
“The club has always had the reputation of having a poor pitch and even though it has improved immensely in the last few years, it is clear that something has to change for our growth to be able to continue.
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“One such way in which we can allow our growth to continue is by installing a 3G pitch and that is very much our intention.
“A series of meetings have been held with the Hunts FA and the Football Foundation and it was agreed that Westwood Road would be an ideal venue for such re-development.
“It was suggested to us that we should also give thought to upgrading the clubhouse to really ensure we have a venue that the people of St Ives and the surrounding areas can be proud about.
“We’re not just talking about being a football club here. We want St Ives Town to be able to cater for everyone from toddlers to pensioners through a wide range of activities running throughout the week.
“At this stage there is still a lot of hard work ahead to secure funding and ensure we can bring this project to fruition, but we have been appointed an FA club consultant who will guide us through the next six to 12 months.
“We will soon be asking for interest from other clubs and organisations who may wish to become a partner in this exciting new chapter for one of the country’s oldest football clubs.
“And, if everything goes to plan, work could start as early as next summer and it is not unrealistic to suggest the 3G surface could be in place for the 2021/22 season.”
Saints are the highest-ranked club in the area as they play at Step 3 of the non-league system – although they had a fortunate escape from relegation when the 2019/20 campaign was declared null and void recently due to the Coronavirus crisis.
Saints were three points from safety when the season was brought to an abrupt halt with all results then expunged, but they were positive they would have avoided the drop on the pitch with a run of favourable fixtures ahead.
The club has expanded rapidly in recent times with the creation of a football education academy, new senior reserve team, four colts sides, two senior women’s teams and an Under-12 girls’ futsal outfit.