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£5m funding for new football museum welcomed

PLANS to open a new football museum in Wrexham have taken a step closer after the Welsh Government announced funding of £5.4million for the project.

It would be located at Wrexham AFC’s Racecourse Ground, which has hosted more Wales games than any other, and is one of the oldest international stadiums in the world.

The new museum could open in 2026 and it is hoped it will further boost tourism in the area. Wrexham’s popularity has been on the up since the purchase of the town’s football club by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney in 2021.

Commenting on the news that £5.4 million is being spent to create a Welsh national football museum in Wrexham, Shadow Sports Minister, Tom Giffard MS said: “I am pleased to see that this project, which enjoys support from all parties in the Senedd, has finally got the go ahead to celebrate and promote Welsh football, having originally asked about this museum in 2021.

“As the project moves to a new phase, the Labour Government’s dither and delay needs to end so that we can deliver this exciting attraction.

“It is interesting, however, that £4.25 million materialised out of nowhere for Labour’s murky Gilestone Farm deal with no business plan, yet this worthwhile project has had to jump through hoops to get off the ground.”

The ‘Museum of Two Halves’ will see the development of the Football Museum for Wales and a new Wrexham Museum in the current museum building on Regent Street in Wrexham.

The new football museum will celebrate Welsh football, past and present, in all its diversity, from grassroots clubs to the national teams, as well as highlighting Wrexham’s historic achievements in the sport and celebrating the rich heritage of the County Borough.

New galleries will be created to display the Wrexham Museum collections, which means an enhanced experience for visitors and a first-class, modern venue for discovering the fascinating and eventful story of our region of North East Wales.

Working alongside the community, the museum will host a programme of activities and events to inspire all who visit to learn, be active and achieve their potential.

Dawn Bowden MS, Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, and Chief Whip, said: “I am very pleased to announce the Welsh Government is making a further grant of £5.46m available to Wrexham County Borough Council to continue the work to develop and deliver the new Football Museum for Wales.

“The development of a Football Museum for Wales is a major cultural capital commitment in our Programme for Government, and there certainly is no better time to be creating a museum dedicated to the game, in the spiritual home of Welsh football.  This funding commitment comes at a time when interest in Welsh football and in Wrexham AFC itself are at an all-time high. 

“Creating a museum in Wales to celebrate our football heritage will help build a legacy from our nation’s involvement in the men’s FIFA World Cup 2022, ensuring its history is valued and stories are recorded for future generations of players, supporters, and fans.  Focussing on showcasing themes such as Wrexham as the birthplace of Welsh football, the history of club football in Wales, dramatic and emotive events in international football, the spirit and diversity of the Welsh football community including Welsh language communities, fan culture, women’s football, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and LGBTQ+ experiences, it will become a key venue in North Wales’ tourist and visitor offer.

“I am grateful for the work undertaken so far, through collaboration between the Welsh Government, Wrexham County Borough Council and other partners, including the FAW.  Since 2020, more than £800,000 in Welsh Government funding has already ensured the appointment of a dedicated Football Curator and Engagement Officers, the progression of designs to RIBA stage 3, and pan-Wales public engagement and community consultation to develop proposed plans and content. 

“A commitment to provide funding for the project initially formed part of a Budget agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru. We have agreed this new investment as part of the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru.

“The funding announced today, subject to conditions and approval of a full business case, will continue the community and pan-Wales engagement on the project, developing the content, collections and exhibitions through to construction and opening.”