Sheffield Sports centre shelved

footballram'Artist's impression of Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA's new �4 million centre at Westfield, planning application made nov 2011
footballram'Artist's impression of Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA's new �4 million centre at Westfield, planning application made nov 2011
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The future of local football could have been threatened by ambitious spending to create a community sports hub, grassroots bosses feared.

Sheffield and Hallamshire County Football Association’s board of directors also said having to borrow around £750,000 for the Westfield project in Mosborough may have affected its own future.

Originally the state-of-the-art centre was expected to cost around £4 million - but costs ‘spiralled’.

As a result the County FA has withdrawn its interest - and the planned project is now doomed.

A statement from the association’s board of directors said: “The board wish it to be known they will not endanger the future of football in South Yorkshire and surrounding areas, and the future of the County FA, by putting its future at risk in financial terms with significant borrowing which cannot be justified at this time.”

But football coaches and sports leaders said the association’s decision not to continue its interest was ‘gutting’ and ‘hugely disappointing’.

The centre, at the former Westfield School site, would have offered sports activities, coaching and football development for thousands of people.

Roger Reade, general and company secretary at the County FA, said: “It is hugely disappointing for everyone at the FA that this decision has had to be taken – especially after investing so much time and energy in the project in recent years.

“We are all now looking forward in a positive manner and hoping to look at alternative arrangements as soon as possible.”

The centre was to provide a new headquarters for the FA which has outgrown its site in Kelham Island.

Better grass and floodlit five-a-side pitches, a gym, a running track, an archery club and community and rugby facilities were all included in the plans.

Lee Newton, an under-16 coach for Beighton Magpies FC, said: “It is gutting that it’s not going to go ahead.

“I thought the plans were really impressive.”

Funding was expected to come from grants and the sale of the FA’s current premises.

The association statement added: “This decision has not been taken lightly but the significant rise in costs from the original budget has moved the goalposts substantially and taken the Westfield project beyond the reach of the FA.

“While the board regret any impact their decision might have in relation to the community, they wish to confirm it would not make financial sense for the FA to invest around £1.3 million, including a substantial amount of borrowed money - around three quarters of a million pounds - in today’s economic climate.”

The board thanked site owner Sheffield Council and other partners involved.

A council spokesman said: “We were disappointed to hear the FA has withdrawn. The council will now review future options for the site.”