Plymouth Argyle Academy Brickfields plans



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Plymouth Argyle secured sit for new academy Image: Plymouth Argyle FC

A permanent home for the Plymouth Argyle FC Academy has been secured in the heart of Plymouth (UK) thanks to a groundbreaking agreement.

‘Plymouth Argyle FC’ stated that the EFL League One team Plymouth Argyle F.C., the Argyle Community Trust, the Plymouth City Council, the Plymouth Albion Rugby Football Club, and the Devonport Community Leisure Limited (DCLL) have struck a deal which will see £21m invested in rejuvenating the underutilized Brickfields site in Devonport, with a focus on community health, wellbeing and raising aspirations.

The Plymouth Argyle FC Academy offer an advanced football development and education program supported by expert and dedicated staff. The Plymouth Argyle FC Football Academy use advanced technology and coaching methods to develop their players. They are actively looking for upcoming talent to join their Academy, and are very selective about who gets in, as competition is tough.

The Plymouth Argyle Football Club is a professional football club based in the City of Plymouth, Devon, England (UK). As of the 2022-2023 seasons, the team are competing in League One, the third tier of English football. They have played at Home Park, known as the ‘Theatre of Greens’, since 1901.

The 16,388-capacity Home Park is a football stadium in Plymouth, England (UK). The ground has been the home of Football League One club Plymouth Argyle since 1901. After undergoing considerable development in the 1920s and 1930s, the ground suffered heavy damage during World War II.

The Argyle Community Trust has a clear vision, along with its national partners, to be an active, inspirational and inclusive community hub for the South West region. It aims to have a positive impact on a range of groups within society and to provide the local community with the opportunity to explore their full potential, improve their life chances and aspirations through the power of football and Plymouth Argyle F.C.

The Plymouth City Council is the unitary authority for Plymouth, Devon, England. It has traditionally been controlled by Labour or the Conservatives. The Council is currently in a state of no overall control, with the Conservatives governing as a minority administration.

The Plymouth Albion Rugby Football Club is a rugby union club who play in Plymouth, England. The present club was founded in 1920 from a merger between Plymouth RFC and Devonport Albion RFC. Since 2003 they have played their home games at the 8,500-capacity The Brickfields Stadium.

‘Plymouth Argyle FC’ further stated that as part of the plans, Argyle will provide an eight-figure investment towards the project, which will see wholesale redevelopment of Brickfields to install superb facilities for its ambitious youth Academy, including a covered pitch and other amenities which are of the standard required to apply for Category 2 status in the future.
 
Further detail on the site’s future layout will be revealed in due course, but the initial agreement operates on the principle that the Academy center will include:

  • An improved suite of playing pitches including three grass football pitches, and replacing an existing grass rugby training pitch with a new 3G pitch;
  • A new purpose-built Academy building, including classrooms for scholars, office space for Academy staff, changing rooms, a gym, and a parents’ lounge;
  • A new floodlit 3G football pitch to replace a poor condition (currently closed) hockey pitch;
  • A new, covered 3G football pitch;
  • Conversion of the existing 60m x 40m rubber crumb pitch to two PlayZones exclusively for public use;
  • Better site access, public realm and parking; and
  • Opening up the site for community paths.

 
This project is not just about finding a home for the Academy, though. The partnership with the Plymouth City Council, Plymouth Albion R.F.C., DCLL, and other grassroots sports clubs will see Argyle further its community status with the development of a new community hub on the site, operated by the Argyle Community Trust.

The site will also become the permanent home of the Argyle Women’s first-team.

Averred Andrew Parkinson, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Trustee of the Argyle Community Trust, “This is a significant milestone in the club’s proud history, and provides great excitement for the future of Argyle, with the prospect of a permanent academy base taking us one step further in our strategic vision to see the club attract, retain and develop the region’s best young talent. Regenerating the site to provide first-class facilities for our Academy and other elite sports addresses a need, not only for Argyle, but other stakeholders, including the Plymouth Albion R.F.C. The proposal will also provide significant benefit for the Devonport community, allowing the Argyle Community Trust to use redeveloped facilities to manage a thriving community hub, providing members of the public with access, support and equipment to reduce health inequalities and promote wellbeing.”

Investment in facilities at Brickfields will be delivered in tandem with an enhanced, proactive provision of services and support offered to the local residents by the Trust.

The wide-ranging offering will significantly exceed what is presently available for the community at Brickfields, including education and employment programs, adult education, wellbeing support, a dedicated space for youth services, a soft play center, new, affordable gym, and a community café.

In addition, the club has committed to offering a generous program of community usage on specific pitches on site.

For the club’s part, the £11m investment will be provided by existing shareholders, with a further £7.3m coming via the Argyle Community Trust through sport and community development grant funding.

The remaining investment will be provided by the Plymouth City Council, funded by savings made on the site by handing management responsibility to Argyle. The Council will retain ownership of the site, leasing it to the entities involved on a very long, nominal rent, similar to the arrangement currently in place at Harper’s Park, where Argyle’s first-team train.

This welcome and exciting development follows a series of strategic developments to build a long-lasting and sustainable operation at Argyle, including the acquisition of the Goals Plymouth site – now known as Harpers Football Centre – which will enhance the first-team’s training, rehabilitation and administration activities.

The extensive schedule of works is due to begin at Brickfields early in 2024, subject to necessary approval. Given its strategic value and long-term importance to the future of Argyle, the Brickfields project will take precedence over planned redevelopment of the Mayflower Grandstand.

Reconfiguration of the Mayflower Grandstand remains an important objective for the club, and they share supporters’ desire to see improvements finalized, but there is no set timeframe for completion.

Noted Neil Dewsnip, Director of Football at Home Park, “This is another very encouraging development for the future of Argyle. In parallel with work to develop the first team site at Harpers, the foundations for a sustainable conveyor belt of local talented footballers – developed the Argyle way – are being laid, right in the heart of the City. Combining these aspirational facilities with a brand-new community facility will be an outstanding accomplishment, and one everyone in the City can be proud of.”

Added Councilor Pat Patel, Cabinet Member for Customer Services, Culture, Leisure and Sport at the Plymouth City Council, said: “This is an extraordinary deal that will unlock millions of pounds of investment to provide incredible facilities to nurture talent in this City as well as expand the offer to local people. We have been talking extensively to the people who use Brickfields, as well as groups and individuals in Devonport, about what facilities and activities they want to see. At the moment the entire site is not being used as well as it should be. We have a plan for sport that the City’s clubs and organizations helped create and this proposal really fits the bill. Together we are working to increase participation – opening up opportunities get more people involved in sports and physical activity.”

Added Patel, “But this is also about pride, locating the Argyle Academy in Brickfields strengthens the links between the City and Argyle, as well as creating a sense of aspiration for the young people living nearby. We will not see a deal of this scale for many years to come.”

Further detail and plans for the Brickfields project will be revealed in due course.

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