BREWERS NEW HOME UNVEILED
Written byTOM BRADSHAW
If the club gets a winning result when its proposals for a new ground are discussed by councillors, then the new stadium could be up and running by next season's big kick-off.
As exclusively revealed by the Mail at the beginning of June, the Brewers hope to move to Pirelli Sports and Social Club after agreeing to buy the site from the Italian tyre giant.
The new state-of-the-art ground will be just a kick away from the clubs current home at Eton Park, where Albion secured their first ever league title in the 2001-02 season.
The football club submitted its ambitious proposals to East Staffordshire Borough Council on Monday after months of discussions with the authority.
If given the green light, the new ground will have a capacity of 6,000, with 2,000 seats. The capacity at Eton Park is 4,500.
Burton Albion chairman Ben Robinson spelled out his vision for the new ground last night. He said the ground would provide new opportunities for schools and smaller football clubs in the Burton area.
He also said the development was crucial to ensure the club went from strength to strength.
"After several months of discussions the project has reached a milestone with the submission of the planning application," he said.
"We have held meetings with East Staffordshire Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council who have said they are very supportive. We hope that over the next few months as the planning process evolves no major issues will be thrown up which create stumbling blocks.
"The new football ground will provide modern facilities for the club to secure its ongoing development, and enable it to offer better coaching within the community and provide better facilities for schools and local clubs."
The proposals include an additional training pitch which will be available for community use, and will include the relocation of the Eton Park Bowling Club and the Football Tavern.
In conjunction with the relocation proposals, Burton Albion has also submitted a planning application to establish the principle of residential development of the Eton Park site.
The planning proposal is a joint application submitted by both the Brewers and Pirelli. The application includes plans for new distribution units next to Pirellis current national distribution centre.
If given the thumbs-up by planners, Albion plan to start construction work in December with the ground completed in time for the start of the 2004-05 season.
The work will be carried out by Burton firm Bison, the Brewers joint main sponsors. The firm has already carried out preliminary work at the site free of charge.
Bison has a history of top footballing contracts to its name, including work at Derby Countys Pride Park Stadium, the Millennium Stadium, and Manchester Uniteds 'Theatre of Dreams' at Old Trafford.
More recently, the Centrum 100-based company won the contract to supply the concrete structure for the new Wembley Stadium.
Terry Treanor, chief executive of Bison, said yesterday that he was looking forward to participating in the major new development.
He said: "Bison are delighted to be involved in this exciting community project. We are pleased to be able to lend our support to create a marvellous facility from which the whole town and community can benefit."
Albion have spent £1 million on Eton Park in recent seasons to meet the strict ground grading requirements of the Nationwide Conference, to which the club was promoted last year.
The Brewers hope to finance the new stadium by selling off Eton Park for housing development. The club has been based at the ground since 1958.
Mr Robinson has said the new stadium will cut noise and light pollution and include a large car park. Traffic flow at the new ground will be better than at Eton Park thanks to entrances off both Princess Way and Derby Road.
The artists impressions have been handed to the Mail by Sheffield-based architects Hadfield, Cawkwell and Davidson.
When the clubs plans for a new ground were revealed in early July, Albion player-manager Nigel Clough hailed it as a sign that the Brewers were hungry for more success.
He said: "The prospect of a new ground is a demonstration of our determination to progress on all fronts on and off the field.
"We want to take the club as far as we can. Were not exactly sure where that is but the potential is there for us to take a major step forward.
"It will be a huge boost for existing players who we want to keep at the club and it sends exactly the right signal in terms of ambition to people we might want to sign now or in the future.
"Eton Park has been lovely and given us many happy memories but its time to move on and Im absolutely delighted the chairman will hopefully see a result to the huge amount of effort he has put into this project."
Mr Robinson added the commercial prosperity of the club went hand in hand with the quality of players it could attract.
He said: "We are looking to improve our position in the league and finish in the top 10 of the Nationwide Conference rather than the bottom 10.
"We want to keep making progress and expanding our commercial development so we can make more income to invest in the team."