South Shields FC reveals plans for developing Mariners Park - but rules out Â£10million new ground
South Shields Football Club has shone new light on its ambitious expansion goals '“ and kicked into touch possible plans to move to a new Â£10million home.
Bosses have confirmed they want to install new floodlighting and covered stands as part of the upgrading and modernisation of Mariners Park.
In doing so, they say they are no longer examining options to move to a new purpose-build stadium in the town.
That idea was floated by owner Geoff Thompson in an interview with the Gazette a year ago.
He said he had engaged consultants to see what land was available for possible development.
Now the club insists its priority lies in improving its existing Shaftesbury Avenue venue, the next stage of which has been revealed in plans newly submitted to South Tyneside Council.
They show a bid to replace outdated pitch lighting with new state-of-the-art 20m-high floodlights in each corner of the ground.
And two pre-built tiered stands are also planned for behind the goal between the match-day grass pitch and the 3G training surface.
Similar in design to three already in place along the Shaftesbury Avenue side of the ground, each can hold up to 150 standing spectators and be adapted for seating.
Managing director Keith Finnigan said the club wanted to improve the viewing experience for spectators while meeting facilities guidelines laid down by the Football Association.
Mr Finnigan said: “We want to make the fans’ match day experience as good as possible – some like to come to games once, we want them to return.
“One criticism is that the ground is too level – by having tiered stands, people will be able to see the games better.
“To move through the league grading requires that certain lighting is in place and the lights we have now may be twenty years old, so we are looking to improve that.”
And he added: “Moving grounds is not part of our current thinking.
“We are an ambitious club and the current intention is to get Mariners Park up to the grades that we require.
“Longer term plans to Mariners Park depend on planning applications and investments.”
The club has undergone a rapid uplift in fortunes since Mr Thompson became owner and chairman three years ago.
He brought the club back to Mariners Park – then named Filtrona Park – after being forced to spend two seasons playing home games 20 miles away in Peterlee.
Last season, South Shields won four trophies, including the FA Vase in a final at Wembley Stadium, and won promotion to the Evo-Stik First Division North.
The public can comment on the planning application until Wednesday, February 14.
If approved, the new facilities should be in place by the start of next season.