Are Linby Colliery Welfare set to become the next ‘superpower’ of domestic football in the Hucknall area?
That’s what club officials hope after the seal of approval was given by councillors and planning officers to a £260,000 masterplan to develop their ground at Church Lane in Linby.
Hucknall Town’s domination of local football over the past 25 years has been well documented.
But so have their recent trials and tribulations, which have seen them slip to their lowest level on the non-league pyramid -- step five -- since 1997 and revert from semi-professional to amateur status.
Now they are being caught up by clubs like Linby, who are only two steps below them on step seven. And progress on the field, under manager Dave Marlow, is being matched off the field by their exciting scheme for a new-look ground, which includes facilities such as changing rooms, clubhouse, floodlights, 60-seater stand and revamped pitch.
“Planning permission from Gedling Borough Council was the first major obstacle to overcome, especially because floodlights are part of the plan,” says Linby’s experienced secretary Ady Ward.
“We are very pleased with the decision. It secures the future of the club and our place on the non-league pyramid.”
The decision has also opened up the gateway to promotion from the Central Midlands League (CML) in future seasons, following the blueprint of Basford United, who have achieved two successive elevations to reach Hucknall Town’s level for ther 2013/14 campaign.
In the wider Dispatch district, it could be argued that Bulwell, who will play alongside Linby in the CML next term, have the best team. But they still do not have their own ground and have to share with Basford.
While the progress of Linby’s old rivals, Hucknall Rolls Leisure, will always be stunted because their ground is owned by the Rolls company and must be shared with other sports.
Linby’s plan has the blessing of their ground-owners, CISWO (Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation), with whom the club have a lease agreement that does not expire until 2120.
And they are confident of acquiring the considerable funding required to see their masterplan come to fruition.
The planning application process alone cost £6,000, while the task of moving and levelling the pitch will cost more than £18,000 and the state-of-the-art floodlights more than £50,000.
But because Linby are an FA Charter Standard club, embracing youth and female football, they have already been promised 70% of the funding from the Football Foundation’s Stadium Development Fund. And an £11,300 grant has been handed over by Notts County Council as part of its Sports Legacy Fund to support grassroots community sport in the county in the wake of the London Olympics.
Linby have also appointed a private consultancy company to collate other funding bids. They have launched a ‘Buy A Brick’ fundraising initiative, whereby supporters can have their name on the wall of the new clubhouse for £5 per brick. And they have been nominated as one of three charities to receive sponsorship from the Yorkshire Building Society.
Phase one of the masterplan -- work on the pitch -- began this week. The main development begins next May.