Bilston Town FC can bid for more funding after council chiefs sign off on long-term lease

Bilston Town Football Club will be able to bid for more funding after it was handed a 35-year lease for its home and adjacent land.

Matchday action at Bilston Town Community Football Club’s stadium in Queen Street.
Matchday action at Bilston Town Community Football Club’s stadium in Queen Street.

Council bosses signed off on proposals to hand the Steelmen the reigns of their Queen Street home on a pepper-corn rent basis.

And it will enable the club, which has charitable status, to bid for further funding from sports bodies for three projects to transform the ground.

It includes the installation of a 3G pitch, conversion of adjacent land on Queen Street into a car park and an improvement of the facilities at the club.

Denise Frankham, chair of the club, said: "This is a massive step forward for our long-term plans for the football club and our community work.

"A lot of hard work has happened to get to this point - and we wouldn’t be where we are without the support of the council and our local councillors.

"This Community Asset Transfer will enable us to bid for funding to make our plans a reality and broaden our community work. It also gives the club stability for the future."

Further funding will be sought from Sport England, The Football Foundation, The Premier League Development Fund and the National Lottery for the three proposals.

A 3G pitch has been called "integral" to the club’s overall strategy.

It will allow football to be played regardless of the weather conditions and will enable the pitch to be used multiple times per day by community groups, schools and colleges.

The transfer of the adjacent land and its subsequent conversion into a car park will improve safety and security in the immediate area.

It will replace the current unsightly and overgrown site with a clean and well-maintained car park for the football club, also improving the appearance of the area, amid upgrades to the facilities.

Councillor Bhupinder Gakhal, cabinet member for city assets and housing, added: “Under its current management the football club board has consciously and clearly recognised that the role of a football club like Bilston should and must be wider than putting a team on the pitch on a Saturday.

“The Community Asset Transfer will offer the club the opportunity to widen its remit to support the activities of Wolverhampton Council and local community groups, promoting the use of the space for keep fit classes and other forms of physical activity. The club will also seek to improve the social club to make it a safe welcoming space for users, to improve the dressing and changing rooms, and to upgrade the overall spectator experience at the club.

“It will make Bilston Town Community FC a genuinely democratic, inclusive and strategic community asset with an embedded vision to play an active role in building community cohesion through sport and fitness.

“This can only have significant public health and wellbeing benefits for the local community and will boost the local economy.”

The Community Asset Transfer, subject to terms and conditions, was approved by the council’s Cabinet Resources Panel on Wednesday.

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