25 years after losing Station Road, Swinton Lions have long been linked with Agecroft as a possible route back into the M27 post code. The opportunity to form a partnership with Moorside Rangers, who have also had a long term interest at the Agecroft site was therefore extremely welcome, as a joint project significantly increases its chances of success. Moorside Rangers are a superb example of a successful community club, but as well as running almost 50 junior teams they also have ambitions of progressing up the football pyramid.
The joint enterprise has been encouraged and facilitated by a delighted Salford City Council, who will offer logistical support moving forward. A number of meetings have taken place recently between both clubs and the Council at Swinton Town Hall and a legal agreement is now in the process of being drawn up. Both partners understand that by working collaboratively there will be greater opportunities in identifying funding sources – some of which are already progressing.
The project will be completed in phases, with a new dressing room block to be built first, followed later by a 4G pitch. The development will be planned carefully to ensure that supporter and integral facilities can be added progressively to bring the ground up to Rugby League Championship standard (which necessitates a capacity of 3,000 including 750 seats).
New Lions’ Chairman Andy Mazey and Moorside Rangers Chairman Brian Elsey agreed that by working together, the needs of both clubs can be met as the scheme develops. The nature of such a phased development, along with the necessary regulatory requirements, will mean that the project will inevitably take time. It’s estimated that the development will be fully complete in 3 to 5 years’ time.
The Moorside Rangers secretary, Darren Kay, said of the new venture, “These are exciting times for both clubs, and we look forward to achieving our joint ambition, which is to develop Agecroft into a facility that we can all be proud of.”
Swinton Lions’ Operations Director Steve Wild added,
“We have had a number of very cordial meetings with Moorside Rangers and from the very beginning it was clear that we shared remarkably similar objectives. We both want to progress on the field of play and we both want to develop our respective sports in the Swinton community. To achieve those aims and to establish long-term viability for both our clubs we need to develop Agecroft to the full, therefore a joint project was the obvious path to follow. We believe that this project represents the most realistic possibility in 25 years of our club finally returning to its spiritual roots.”
A meeting is planned in early December to bring supporters up to date with the project and regular bulletins will follow thereafter.