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KICKING UP THE PAST

13-02-2010

Villa Park

PHOTO: Thanks to Steve Beauchampe

Dave Woodhall is looking at ways to spend other people’s money. It isn’t difficult.

The National Football Museum opened in Preston nine years ago and its home to one of the greatest collections of football memorabilia in the world. Unfortunately, it’s suffered from a lack of funding – and visitors – since opening in 2001 and it was recently revealed that the museum will soon be relocating to the Urbis exhibition centre in Manchester.

It’s hoped that moving to Manchester will see visitor numbers quadruple from the current 100,000 per year and if funding can be obtained a smaller museum will remain open to the public in Preston.

Preston was at first glanced an odd choice to host such a historic collection, its only claim to the honour being that Preston North End, whose Deepdale ground plays host to the museum, were the first winners of the Football League.

Manchester’s claim is even more tenuous, being based on the city’s self-appointed divine right to host, hold and present anything it wants to.

In any case, whose Football League is it? If the museum is going to move it should be to Birmingham the home of league football and the most accessible part of the country.

Even if the National Football Museum isn’t going to find a new home here, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t build one of our own. There’s an art gallery and museum in every major city in the country, so why not a football museum?

Funding shouldn’t be a problem – come August the region may boast four Premier League clubs, with Villa owned by benevolent billionaire Randy Lerner.

Villa have talked about a museum for several years without ever revealing any concrete plans but Lerner is known to be a keen lover of sporting heritage. He paid for the renovation of the Holte Hotel at Villa Park and as the Holte is underused at present, two birds could easily be killed with one stone.

The Holte Hotel becomes a football museum. Villa provide the major funding, our other local clubs chip in and get a section each. It’s also something the council could use as part of the 2013 City of Culture bid. How about it?

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