Maidenhead United FC could be in its new stadium by 2023.
The club’s plan to move from York Road to Braywick Park was given the Royal Borough’s support at a meeting of the authority’s cabinet on December 19 and came before the corporate overview & scrutiny (O&S) panel on January 15.
Councillors on the O&S panel agreed not to call in the proposal but agreed the next report to cabinet should be scrutinised by the panel.
United chief executive Jon Adams told Thames Tap the National League club has grown substantially in the community over the last five years with the numbers of teams rising from five to almost 50 while the men’s first team has brought the 149-year-old club its most successful spell.
But the landlocked York Road ground offers little option to expand or add facilities. Its capacity of 4,200 includes just 500 seats while, should the club reach the EFL, it would need a minimum 2,000 seats within three years.
The move to Braywick would involve taking over the 3.7-hectare site of Maidenhead Athletics Club’s running track and building a new, smaller track elsewhere on the 40-hectare park.
Maidenhead Rugby Club and the new leisure centre to replace the Magnet will also be neighbours to the Magpies at Braywick. Plans for the proposed new 5,000 capacity EFL-compliant football ground, along with extra community sports facilities are being drawn up by the club.
Mr Adams said: “The truth is the club have looked many times at moving and the challenge has always been finding a site to move to.
“The core requirement is that we stay in the town centre, and this is seven minutes from the town centre.”
He said he wants the new ground to be one of the biggest in the National League for a club of the Magpies’ size. He seeks to avoid a larger ground on the scale of bigger rivals such as Notts County where 5,000 crowds fill only a fraction of the capacity.
He added: “One thing that is really important is keeping feel of the National League club rather than that of one of the larger clubs.”
United has among the lowest budgets of any in its league but Mr Adams added: “Our ambition is to make sure the club has the best facilities in a National League stadium.”
What he hopes to be a hub for sport and the community is intended to be ready during 2023.
The York Road site, owned by a trust on behalf of the club, is believed to be the oldest to house one club continuously, but is surrounded by development sites and potential development sites including the 229 units currently going up at the former Desborough Bowling Club.
The club is already talking to potential development partners about its plans.
Mr Adams said: “It’s really incredibly exciting. We are very grateful for the support of the local authority in terms of the ambitions they have for the town. It’s a tremendous opportunity and we need to take advantage of that but there are still a lot of hurdles to overcome.”
* Image shows the York Road ground.
© Thames Valley Property No 196 (tvproperty.co.uk)