Feb 7 2013 by Rob Pattinson, Skelmersdale Advertiser
WIGAN Athletic FC is being encouraged to build a new training academy in Skelmersdale.
The football club has been consulting with residents on building a football training academy off Moss Lane, Wrightington.
The development would consist of six full-size and a small goalkeeper’s training area.
It would include supporting facilities of changing, medical, and gym contained within a pavilion.
But Labour group leader Cllr John Fillis is calling on the club to consider Skelmersdale as an alternative option – and has written to the council to propose opening a discussion over the issue.
It comes after Dave Whelan, chair of Wigan Athletic, was part of a presentation team at the Wrightington Hotel, which consisted of artists impressions and a question and answer session.
Cllr Fillis said: “It was clear the Wigan team wasn’t used to so many people turning up and the strength of feeling that such an application would invoke.
“I was able to speak too many of the local residents who feared for the future of their village community and how such a development would impact on their village life.
“They were angry about how such a development could take place especially when the Government had promised them so much under the “Big society” banner policy, which would protect them from such a planning application.”
Explaining his reason’s behind putting Skelmersdale forward as an option, Cllr Fillis said: “It’s important that the council listens to members of the local community and where possible intervene to create a positive outcome for everyone involved. “Skelmersdale has the land, road network that would accommodate such a facility as well as enable it to expand when Wigan AFC make progress up the Premiership.It would be a fantastic addition to the Concourse and St Modwen Development.”
Cllr Fillis said that following the decision to knock down Skelmersdale Sports Centre, a move to bring Wigan’s training academy to the town could be a catalyst for the development of a new sports and leisure facility in Skelmersdale.
He said: “It should be recognised that this will be a business venture so I have written to Mr Whelan as well identifying that this could also be a long term opportunity for Wigan AFC to expand their fan base into the town of Skelmersdale especially with it being so close to the DW Stadium.”
Jonathan Jackson, Wigan Athletic Chief Executive, said: “We consulted with local residents at Wrightington last week as part of the pre-planning application procedures for our proposed senior academy training ground and we are continuing that process working with the local authorities.”
The club did not wish to comment on the Skelmersdale proposal.