A FOOTBALL club has bounced back from the brink of closure and is now looking ahead to a more secure future after landing a £30,000 grant.
A matter of months has made a huge difference to Ashington Community Football Club as now, far from going to the wall, it can look to get more people involved in sport.
Arch, an arm’s-length development company set up by Northumberland County Council, is giving the Colliers £10,000 a year for the next three years to increase community participation in sport in the town’s Hirst area.
That payout comes on top of the £6m spent by the company on its 400 houses in Hirst over the last five years.
Arch managing director Peter McIntyre said: “Ashington is one of our main priority areas in the county for investment, development and regeneration.
“We want to build on our continued investment in local homes within the Hirst area of Ashington and developments to help strengthen links between the community and football club.
“Our annual investment of £10,000 for the next three years will help put the club on a more stable financial footing and ensure that the community facilities are available for the benefit of local residents.”
Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck and also chairman of the football club, said: “Our club has a long and proud history and has been at the heart of the Ashington community for almost 130 years.
“Our future success is closely linked to the local community and the growth of the Ashington economy.
“As a local landlord and the development company for Northumberland, Arch has a pivotal role to play in improving the area.
“We very much welcome Arch’s investment in the club and the wider regeneration of the town.”
The cash boost from Arch comes just months after a £14,000 tax bill brought the Colliers to the brink of closure.
Speaking in the House of Commons in June, Mr Lavery said: “We got a notice from the taxman which said that if we did not pay a tax bill of £14,000, the club would be closed down.
“It is an ordinary club, which could have folded without some common sense from the taxman.
“They did say that if we did not pay money immediately, they would basically send the bailiffs in.
“That would have killed the club – a club that has been in existence for over 100 years – for the sake of less than £10,000.
“There were no ifs or buts. They would have killed the club and, in doing so, could have killed the community.”
Ashington has a long tradition of producing sporting talent including Newcastle United legend Jackie Milburn, football World Cup winners Bobby and Jackie Charlton and England cricket star Steve Harmison.
Mr Lavery has in the past called for more government funding for grass-roots sports to help smaller clubs unearth future talents such as those from his home town.