Plans for an 8,000 seater stadium in Oswestry are 'exciting' says TNS owner Mike Harris
Discussions have started to bring an 8,000-seater football and rugby stadium to Oswestry.
Champions League football could be held in the town centre if the plans by The New Saints FC, FC Oswestry Town and Oswestry Rugby Club get the go-ahead.
Mike Harris, TNS owner and businessman, said he had met with representatives from both other clubs and is now hoping for council backing.
He said: “It is early stages, but discussions between potential parties have taken place and if the council backs it it will be an exciting opportunity.
“It could be up to 8,000 seats, and that would allow us to hold our Champions League games in the town, and for FC Oswestry to potentially have FA Cup games in the town when it comes to it, which would be massive.
“The details of everything aren’t 100 per cent clear yet, but it would be a superb development, it would create jobs for the town.”
The land has been identified and discussions have already taken place with the landowner, Oswestry Town Council.
Nick Maguire, director of football at FC Oswestry Town in the North West Counties League said he had always wanted to bring good footballing times back into the centre of Oswestry, and this could be an opportunity to make it happen.
He said: “We’ve been looking for over three years for a site in the town.
“Something like this should have happened 20 years ago.
“I remember going away in the forces, coming back and the old Victoria Road ground was gone, and Oswestry were no longer the biggest side in the area.
“A town the size of this should have a ground in the town, we’ve had an ambition for FA Cup football, this would help that and provide a facility on our doorstep.
“Early talks have taken place, land has been identified near the college, ideally we would have liked a site on the old Smithfield, however we want to have the best facility for Oswestry, and work together with other clubs.”
Mr Harris, whose side have been based at The Venue at Park Hall for 10 years, is backing the plans and believes having two clubs playing within the town is a ‘fantastic opportunity’ for Oswestry.
He said the current home of his club would continue to be used for community and academy sides, which is already at full capacity.
Rugby chairman and deputy leader of Shropshire Council Steve Charmley said they’ve been looking to expand and this could be the opportunity to explore that.
He added: “We had a couple of conversations because we needed an extra pitch, and then Mike rung me and spoke of this idea, having a ground in the town boundary for more people to go and watch.
“The drainage at Park Hall isn’t the greatest, and we would be interested in this idea.
“It would be good to have a match standard 3G pitch, and there may be RFU money available for that.
“The idea with TNS and FC Oswestry is certainly something we want to look into further.”
The original Oswestry Town side folded in 1988, and their Victoria Road ground was sold off for housing development, and football hasn’t been played in the town since then.
They re-formed and played in the League of Wales at Park Hall athletics stadium until 2003, when they merged with Total Network Solutions, and formed The New Saints.
Nick believes if the plans come off, which he hopes they will do, it could help bring FC Oswestry Town back to what it used to be, when it welcomed big crowds to it’s Victoria Road ground.
He added: “We hope it would get Oswestry back to it used to be, and it is possible as the town has doubled in size since they last played in the town.
“By having the ground in the town, gates would improve, more money would be coming in, the team would be able to rise and it could see us achieve an aim of having FA Cup and the TV cameras in the ground, which is an achievable dream.”