Delight as former Pulse fitness centre set to reopen as Leisure United Wednesbury

Campaigners and staff at Wednesbury's former Pulse Sports Centre are celebrating after a sports organisation stepped in to save the facility - which is hoped to reopen in a week's time.

Centre manager Paul Taylor, Leisure United's Warren Ormerod and headteacher Mike Smith
Centre manager Paul Taylor, Leisure United's Warren Ormerod and headteacher Mike Smith

The 12 staff made redundant by Pulse have been approached by Leisure United to take their old jobs up with the same terms and conditions.

Centre manager Paul Taylor is overjoyed to have his old job back at the site in the grounds of Phoenix Collegiate College.

He said: "We were so gutted when we had to close, we love the place, the staff and our customers are like friends. The school and Leisure United have been brilliant and seeing all our teams playing again will be like a dream come true."

Leisure United runs football centres in Sheffield, Newcastle and Leeds but the Friar Park sports centre is the organisation's first foray into the Midlands. The sports centre and pitches will be called Leisure United Wednesbury.

Warren Ormerod, who founded Power League, is the driving force behind Leisure United and has a track record of running successful sporting facilities.

He said: "As soon as we heard about this place closing we knew we could do something with it. Football is the best game to keep fit and I'm delighted to say we will be open for business in a few weeks time. We are working round the clock and it is practicalities like installing a phone line which is stopping us opening straight away.

"In time we will look at replacing the pitches, changing the floodlights and improving facilities but the most important next step for us is welcoming the community back on board."

He added: "We have all the infrastructure as an organisation to make Leisure United Wednesbury a success and getting such support from the school has been fantastic."

Rocketing energy bills almost derailed the project, however Phoenix Collegiate, which buys its gas and electricity at a very competitive rate, stepped in and agreed to provide energy for the site.

David Gallagher, chair of Leisure United said: “For 11 years, the centre, which boasts 3G football pitches and a well-equipped gym, has been home to hundreds of footballers and gym members.

"We’re delighted to be able to help and reopen the site for the benefit of residents in the borough of Sandwell. The passion for the centre has really shone through since its closure.

"Plans are in place to bring back the staff and to reopen the centre in less than seven days. Leisure United has a mission to unite people in their love of football and fitness. We offer high quality sports facilities which can be used by the whole community."

Phoenix Collegiate College headteacher Mike Smith said: “We’re delighted to have forged very quickly a partnership with Leisure United.

"Leisure United has a fantastic track record of working in partnership to create and run high quality facilities across the country.

"We’re looking forward with real optimism and can’t wait to welcome back leisure users to this valuable community resource. It is important for the long-term success of the site that the community re-engage in these community facilities."

"Since becoming headteacher my ambition is that Phoenix is a school for the community, and now working with Leisure United, the NFT and other partners both the Wednesbury and Clarkes Lane site will create the very best sporting facilities for Sandwell."

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