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August reopening for Portway Stadium
The rejuvenation of the Portway Stadium will see football return there in August and it is bound to interest Andover Lions FC, who were formed from the ashes of the old club and who currently play next door to the stadium at Charlton running track.
Ironically the pitch has floodlights but little else and although good enough for the Hampshire 2004 League it would need improving if the club gained promotion in May.
Asked whether there could be a lifeline for Andover Lions, Mr Tasker said :”Our remit was to bring the stadium up to a point where it could be leased. There is nothing in the agreement for or against sub letting to a third party – however we would encourage it if it was to lead to fostering talent..”
Having a stadium in Andover will enable the college to further develop its successful Football Academies, currently based at the Andover town campus and the Winchester based Sparsholt College. These look to develop talented and committed players with the potential to progress to a career as a professional player. The college also uses the Academy as a springboard for career opportunities in coaching, massage, physiotherapy and management.
The Academy caters for players of all abilities and the Portway Stadium will also provide a venue for the Academy first team side who play in the Conference Youth Alliance with fixtures each Wednesday afternoon. For Andover College based Academy students, the Portway will also be the venue for classroom and practical training sessions.
The refurbishment programme will enable the college to convert the current clubhouse into modern learning centres for football and other sporting students and facilities will also be made available for hire by local community groups and a dedicated space will be created for the delivery of the Andover 14-19 Consortium Ready to Work training programme. Andover College’s assistant principal Stuart Barlow said:” These are exciting times as they will provide the best facilities for our students and will be a huge benefit to local sport in the community. It will mean we are independent from Winchester City and Salisbury City FCs, although we will continue to work with them.
‘It will also raise aspirations in the town as we have a good record of students going forward and every player who goes onto University or comes back to coach will be seen as a success.”
The Portway Stadium was built during the summer of 1989 and opened following the compulsory purchase and redevelopment of the Walled Meadow, home of Andover FC since late Victorian times. While never likely to win any design awards it was home to the club who played in the Wessex and Southern Leagues and served a purpose for the small fan base the club worked with. The new facilities will include a small function room while restructuring upstairs to form class room based study areas. Other areas will be fully utilised as some areas of college life will be displaced to the Portway.