Page last updated at 17:00 GMT, Tuesday, 8 September 2009 18:00 UK

Football museum to change cities

Urbis
The football exhibits will move to Urbis under the plan

Talks are under way to move the National Football Museum from its current home in Preston to Manchester.

The attraction, based at Preston North End's Deepdale football ground, would move to Manchester's Urbis centre.

Museum trustees said a lack of funds in Preston had "always been a concern" and that the switch to Manchester would secure its financial future.

Up to 100,000 people a year currently visit the museum, which could move in early 2010.

But the leader of Preston Council said the authority would fight to keep the attraction in the city.

Urgent talks

Councillor Ken Hudson said: "The National Football Museum is an important attraction for Preston and we desperately want it to stay in the city.

"We have an urgent meeting with museum representatives on Monday, when we will discuss the future of the museum."

The National Football Museum opened in 2001 and currently relies on funding from the government, Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council and commercial activities.

Councillor Eric Fazackerley said officials hoped to keep the museum in Preston

Exhibits include the ball from the 1966 World Cup final, Maradona's shirt from the "Hand of God" game between England and Argentina and the oldest FA Cup trophy.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said talks began after the authority was approached by the North West Development Agency (NWDA).

"We've looked at the possibilities and believe that there is enormous potential for the museum if it was located in Manchester," he said.

"I think that potential has been recognised by both the trustees of the museum and the trustees of Manchester's Millennium Quarter, who amongst other things run Urbis."

Sir Richard said the existence of two Premier League football clubs in the city was already a major draw for visitors and having the museum in the city made "perfect sense".

Preston North End was one of the 12 founder members of the Football League in 1888, becoming the first team to do the League and FA Cup "double".

Move a 'travesty'

Its stadium, Deepdale, is one of the oldest professional football grounds in the world, which was one of the factors in locating the museum in Preston.

Paul Dermody, chair of museum trustees, said: "While the museum has gone from success to success in Preston since it opened in 2001, the funding of the museum has always been a concern.

"But with the backing of Manchester City Council, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the football family its future will be secured."

A museum spokeswoman said the DCMS currently provided annual funding of £105,000, but that more was needed.

"The museum currently has funding in place to continue to operate until 31 December, 2009. Discussions with current and potential funders are ongoing," she said.

The Prospect union, which represents staff, described plans to move the attraction as a "travesty which risks jobs and makes a mockery of Preston's historical connections with the game".

"Preston has made a major contribution to football's history. It was instrumental in the birth of the league and therefore is the right site for a national museum celebrating the game," said spokesman Jez Stewart.



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SEE ALSO
MPs fight moving football museum
12 Dec 08 |  Lancashire
Football museum 'needs more cash'
23 Jan 07 |  Lancashire
United legends at football museum
29 Jul 06 |  Lancashire
Urbis visitors increase by 550%
12 Apr 04 |  Manchester
Football museum's expansion plan
05 Jul 06 |  Lancashire

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