Reds chief wants Tesco store and hotel at Racecourse ground

Reporter:

Matt Sims

WREXHAM FC and Crusaders’ chairman has said the club has held talks with a hotel chain about building next to The Racecourse and that he would also like to see a small supermarket on the Mold Road site.

A total of 156 student flats out of 521 have so far been built as part of phase one of the Wrexham Village development and will be ready for Glyndwr University students to move in to on September 13.

And speaking about phase two – which has outline planning permission – Ian Roberts emphasised the club had to take advantage of as many commercial opportunities as possible to stay afloat.

He said: “We have been approached by hotel chains and talked to them and we’d like to put in a Tesco Express. From a commercial point of view, it’s about going forward.”

Speaking four months into the job, Mr Roberts emphasised how much the club had to change in coming years in order to continue to survive.

He said: “While we do sympathise with the supporters, we do live in a commercial world – that’s the hard reality.

“The stadium has been left to languish for far too long in the doldrums of uncommerciality.”

In terms of phase one, Mr Roberts said Wrexham Village Ltd, the company set up to manage the project, had received a “nomination agreement” from Glyndwr which will buy all 521 flats when built.

Outline planning permission for phase two initially involved a further 320 student units but Mr Roberts said the company needed to consider maximising the potential of land on Mold Road and the prospect of building a “Travelodge-style” hotel and small supermarket was currently being explored.

He said no decision had yet been taken, but that if a hotel was built it would mean less than the 320 units originally planned.

He emphasised there would still be some type of student accommodation whatever the scenario, given the large amount of land available for development.

Mr Roberts added plans to redevelop the Kop stand were still very much on the cards.

He said: “Phase two takes in part of the (club) shop, so we need to think about relocating the offices and relocating the shop. There are a lot of options here.

“Part of phase two will be the new stand. We didn’t have to but we put in a very detailed outline planning permission because we wanted to show our hand. We are still trying to get some assistance from the Welsh Assembly with regards to that.

“I see The Racecourse not just as the home of sport. There have to be concerts, other sports, seminars.”

Mr Roberts and other members of the club signed a petition to have The Racecourse protected in Wrexham Council’s local development plan, despite the fact, already conceded, that the move could devalue the land as an asset.

He said: “I do agree with with the fans. We need South Wales to recognise that North Wales exists and we have here the oldest international stadium in the world.”

Peter Locke has been brought in to get the club under commercial control, something Mr Roberts said had not always been the case.

Mr Locke has previously worked for Punch Taverns on the large-scale redevelopment of pubs and bars.

Mr Roberts said matchday catering was one aspect of the club’s operations being reviewed.

Speaking about arrangements for next season at The Racecourse, he said: “We’re still finalising plans, but we’ve got Costa Coffee going in, and we’ll be looking at quicker dispensing of food products, so people don’t have to wait as long to get served.”

 

- Mr Roberts said he wanted to be as open as possible with fans and would reveal a full breakdown of Wrexham FC and Crusaders’ finances in the coming weeks.

But he added there would be a delay in the publication of club accounts.

Mr Roberts said: “In the past we have made mistakes in the way we have communicated with the fans. It’s my intention to release to the fans the current financial situation at the club, both football and rugby, warts and all.

“It will be before the start of the season.”

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