Plans revealed for ‘state-of-the-art football hub’ in Doncaster hosting top professional clubs

Doncaster could boast “a state-of-the-art football hub” hosting top national and international teams if new plans are given the green light.
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A planning application for the 15-hectare elite facility in Bawtry is expected to be submitted to Doncaster City Council by December.

Former football agent Willie McKay is behind the idea, which is expected to cost millions should it go ahead.

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The hub would be located on land north of Martin Grange Farm owned by McKay that was previously used as an equestrian holding.

An outline of the proposed development.An outline of the proposed development.
An outline of the proposed development.

Its design team includes the architecture firm behind projects such as Leicester City's training centre and Brighton’s Amex Stadium, KSS.

Once complete, the site would consist of five full-size pitches, a full-size showpitch with a stand, an indoor half-size pitch and a goalkeeper training area.

It would also house an “Elite Training Facility” and a “Professional Training Centre”.

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Both buildings would provide accommodation, gyms, games rooms, kitchen and dining areas, changing rooms, staff offices and injury treatment rooms, with the former also boasting an “amphitheatre” for meetings and press conferences.

The hub would be located on land north of Martin Grange Farm.The hub would be located on land north of Martin Grange Farm.
The hub would be located on land north of Martin Grange Farm.

A proposal document states: “The new centre would be a unique facility providing a state-of-the-art football hub to accommodate national and international professional football clubs playing away fixtures in the north of England.

"It would also serve as a centre for the development of football talent through the provision of high-quality facilities for a lower league professional team, junior travelling teams and the local community.”

Around 50 jobs could be created at the site in roles such as maintenance, hospitality and management, according to the document.

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"The proposed development is expected to generate significant revenue for the local economy in its construction and operation,” it reads.

There is also a promise to work with Doncaster Council to create further local employment opportunities during the project’s construction.

A timescale for the hub’s completion is not mentioned.

According to the proposals, Doncaster’s geographical position within two hours’ distance of 55 per cent of the clubs in English football’s top two tiers makes it an “ideal location” for such a facility.

The document continues: “In an increasingly competitive game with advantage won with marginal gains, the competitive disadvantage of playing away matches far from home is becoming better understood.

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"The genesis of this proposal then is the creation of temporary home from home for travelling teams providing them with a full range of training, diagnostic, medical, rehabilitation and recreation facilities to ensure they are at their best on match day.

"This will represent a step change in the availability of specialist sports accommodation, and will make Doncaster a destination venue of international quality.”

Numerous professional clubs have endorsed the plans.

Labour councillor Barry Johnson, who represents the wards of Rossington and Bawtry, said: “It seems like a good idea at face value.”

Doncaster City, which was formed by McKay last year and currently plays its home matches at Armthorpe Welfare’s Marra Falcons Stadium, will also be permanently based at the site.

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The club currently competes in English football’s eleventh tier, but has ambitions to continue its upward trajectory after winning promotion in its inaugural season.

Parking facilities and a new access road to the greenbelt site are also mentioned in the proposals, which have been submitted to Doncaster Council to determine whether an environmental impact assessment is needed.