NWCFL First Division North outfit Steeton AFC have announced that will play their home games at Marley Stadium from 2020/21 in a move away from Cougar Park.
The move away from Cougar Park comes after several months of hard work behind the scenes.
Steeton AFC Chairman Pete Jeffrey said, “This is an exciting time for the club as we can finally put down some secure roots and really focus on growing the club both on and off the pitch."
"We are extremely grateful to Bradford Council for making this possible in such a short space of time and hope to make this a successful partnership for the long term.”
Home matches in the North West Counties League will now be played on a brand new 3G surface, which will be ready for the start of the 2020/21 season. The revamped facility will also see an upgrade of new floodlights and the installation of home and away dugouts on the existing 3G pitch.
Whilst the facility already ticks a number of boxes to house Step 6 football, Jeffrey says the club still has a lot to do to ensure that the ground meets the FA Grading criteria by March 31st.
“We know that we have a lot of work to do over the coming weeks. We really do need to engage with local businesses and will need their help and support in order for us to ensure that we have a facility that meets Step 6 criteria.”
Included in this work is the provision of a covered stand with seating for 50 people and a further covering for 50 people standing. An existing meeting room at Marley also needs converting into a venue that can hold pre and post-match hospitality. A pay box and turnstile will be installed and the club is working with the Council to provide a secure walkway from the current changing rooms to the pitch.
Jeffrey says the club is delighted to be the anchor tenants of this exciting new project, “Keighley will finally have a showpiece football facility within the town that has been lacking since the demise of the old centre pitch at Marley.”
And he urged both local businesses and the wider community to get behind Steeton.
“We are looking to attract more volunteers to help with various jobs that need doing and also we really do need to get more business’ to get involved in sponsorship. Over the next few weeks, we will be announcing various new sponsorship packages for next season.”
Manager Roy Steeton added, "It's a bit of a relief now we've got it out there because we've been working on it for the past six months. A lot of conversations and a lot of things were going on in the background so it's nice to actually be able to tell everybody what the plan is, officially. Equally now, hopefully we can try and get a lot more local businesses and people interested in the project. We're going to need the help of quite a few people over the next few weeks to get everything done up to standard."
"The major things are already in place. It's enclosed and the floodlights are there. There's going to be a brand new 3G surface there, which will be laid probably at the start of next season. The Council have been brilliant working with us; they've been there every step of the way. They're going to put the dugouts in there for us as well. We're already in the process of sourcing the stands and the pay box. We're looking in the next few weeks for a way to just reconfigure the existing changing rooms so there's a walkway directly onto the pitch.
"When we first looked at the facilities, the biggest concern for us was the playing surface. The playing surface has actually been out there for sixteen years so it's quite an old 3G. The Council have quickly said they're going to upgrade that so it will be a brand new 3G pitch for the start of the season.
"They've been really good. Geoff Wilkinson and the North West Counties have been absolutely fantastic with us and he's given us lots of guidance. We had a meeting with Geoff and the Council just before Christmas so the North West Counties have been fully aware of what the plan is for us. They've been really supportive as well."
And on playing on a 3G surface," First of all, it's going to be nice to have a facility where we can leave everything down there, that we will train on as well as play on. Logistically that's going to be a lot easier for us as well. I think the kind of footballers we have within the club like playing on the 3G surfaces. They're ball players. We're playing on a rugby field, which doesn't help for good football at times. It will save us money in terms on the money we spent on feeding and the groundwork.
"We've got to look at a lot of other clubs in the area. 3G seems to be the way forward. A lot of people my of age don't like their football on it but I think a lot of the younger players now have grown up on 3G pitches and they're more than happy to play on them.
"It's literally a stone's throw away from Cougar Park. For visiting teams it's very accessible because it's situated just off the Keighley to Bingley bypass. There are good public transport routes nearby as well so, for supporters getting there, that's going to be very easy. There's a big car park there as well so that's adding to our facilities.
"It ticks all the boxes. It's going to be good for Keighley itself because Keighley doesn't really have a focal point, a pitch that the town can be proud of. We envisage the pitch will be used for local cup finals and local representative games. Hopefully it’s not just a big boost for Steeton but it should be a big boost for football and people in general."
For anyone wanting to help then please contact Pete via email at firstname.lastname@example.org