Chorley FC have ambitions for a brand new stadium
Craig Salmon talks to Chorley FC’s chief executive Terry Robinson about the club’s bold ambition for a new stadium
Victory Park has been Chorley’s much-loved home for more than a century.
The Magpies moved to the venue in Duke Street in 1920 and it has become arguably one of the most iconic stadiums in non-league football.
However, chief executive Terry Robinson has hinted that a move to a brand new, modern, purpose-built stadium could be the next step in the club’s evolution.
Anyone who has played at Victory Park will attest to its charm and character,
With its traditional main stand built in the 1940s and the terracing behind each goal, the ground can provide an electric atmosphere on match day.
But lifting the club’s dated facilities into the 21st century is certainly a priority in the long term.
After being in the doldrums for a good number of years on the pitch, the club has risen markedly up the football pyramid over the past decade.
From languishing in the bottom reaches of the old NPL First Division North, the Magpies are now in a position where they are not too far away from making a concerted effort to become a Football League club.
Indeed, last season they were technically just one step away from League Two.
Unfortunately, their first venture into non-league football’s top-flight in almost 30 years only lasted a season after they were controversially demoted amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
But the club have regrouped and are keen to rise again to that level soon once coronavirus has been defeated and the world can return to some kind of normality.
There is a feeling certainly at Boardroom level that the Magpies must continue to keep pace off the pitch as well as on it.
“I think for the past couple years the idea has been to move to a new stadium,” revealed Robinson. “But unfortunately that idea has not materialised but I am not saying it will never happen. We are keen to explore the possibility and for it to happen.”
Whether there is scope to redevelop Victory Park is something the club would also look into but a lot would depend on the local authority as the stadium is council owned.
“When you’re in the National League like we are which has standards, you have to upgrade your existing facility to meet the requirement of that league,” said Robinson.
“We have spent a fair amount of money on the stadium and on the pitch. We know it’s an old stadium, but we are upgrading it.
“The capacity is now more than 4,000. We have some work to do on the main stand which we are on with now.
“We are upgrading the social club and we would like to put some terracing on the Ashby Street side of the ground opposite the main stand.
“That is something we will be looking at in the forthcoming years.
“The first thing is we will be looking to install some new floodlights which will give us the opportunity to redevelop that side of the ground.
“We continue to move forward as a football club within the facility that we have.
“But I think we will always be aware that if an opportunity arises, we would like a new stadium.
“The ground is a council-owned stadium and if the council, who have been helpful, would like to upgrade Victory Park then that would be great for everybody.
“The council’s thinking, though, is that they would like to do a development somewhere else – if that is feasible, possible and financially do-able.”
Certainly a brand new stadium would take the club to another level and Robinson believes that would make the Football League a more attainable proposition.
“First of all the club needs to get back in the National League,” said Robinson. “But getting in the Football League I don’t think would faze us.
“Our crowds have been up to 2,000 a game pre-pandemic . I think 2,500 has been our highest one a few years ago.
“So we know that there is a demand and I think the Football League is feasible.
“It’s quite amazing how a new stadium puts you on a different trajectory.
“There seems to be more interest when a new stadium is built. You get more kids interested because they think it’s safer, the parents think it’s safer for their children to attend games.
“A new stadium provides you with an opportunity to do different things .
“But you have got to be careful that you don’t allow your ambition to override your finances.
“We would love a community-based facility.
“We have got 80 to 90 kids in our junior teams and we have got about 50 to 60 lads at 16-years-old on our BTEC programme.
“We do walking football, sporting memories which aids people with dementia.
“We’re actually looking at the possibility of having an hybrid pitch which will give us 28 hours use of the pitch a week.
“We want to make it so that the football club is a focal point of the community and we can put on activities for them. It’s no good saying that we are a community club when the community can’t do anything.”
Robinson insists Chorley’s first-team squad will continue to train each week despite the fact that the National League North campaign has been declared null and void.
The Magpies had hoped that a mini-league would be set-up for those clubs who wished to play and had continued to train in the hope that the FA would sanction such a proposal.
However, that plan has been rejected but the players will continue to meet at least once a week. On Wednesday, a Magpies XI played a team from Birmingham City’s academy.
“The players are coming in voluntary one day per week,” he said. “We are also trying to arrange one or two friendlies because if our players don’t play from February to August, it won’t be ideal.”
Support us and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news, the latest football stories and new puzzles every day. With a digital subscription, you can see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.