Recently the Rt Hon Stuart Andrew MP, Minister for Sport, was invited to Accrington to officially open the extensive new £1m investment in Accrington Stanley Community Trust, a large extension with views across the pitches and right across to Pendle Hill.

The extension contains an extended café, large indoor activity space alongside 3 additional classrooms, and multiple training and meeting rooms to cater for education, employability, health & wellbeing and local community groups. An outdoor seating area and a balcony have also been created to provide fantastic elevated views onto the 3G pitch for spectators.

This allows Accrington Stanley Community Trust to reach more people in the community with their outstanding work, with over 100,000 visits per year. It also allows more opportunities for businesses to support them by using their facilities. The occasion was marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony and unveiling a plaque.

Stuart Andrew said of the role that football plays within communities, “I think it’s fundamental because we’re currently drafting our sports strategy and community facilities are going to play a massive role in that.

“If we have grassroots facilities that are providing opportunities for young people to get involved in sport, to be active and not be tempted into antisocial behaviour or perhaps other criminal activities, that’s a good thing for towns. Sport is going to be a big element of the work that we’re doing over the next few months.”

The Minister, accompanied by Sara Britcliffe MP, then took a short trip down the road to see the outstanding facilities at Accrington Stanley’s Wham Stadium. He toured the ground, including the 1968 and Coley’s rooms, and the brand new £1.7m changing facilities and gallery hospitality area. Stuart was also able to talk to Andy Holt and David Burgess about the fan-led review of football governance, as this falls within his remit as Sports Minister.

Sara Britcliffe was on hand to ask him what he thought of the facilities at both sites. He replied, “When you’ve been talking to me about these facilities, I had a vision in my head, but to come and see them for myself has been amazing. The Trust facilities are just second to none. They’re amazing that they’re open to the community, that they’re state-of-the-art facilities, and then here at the stadium the investment that’s been put in. They’re a great opportunity for people to not just enjoy football, but to have a good social occasion too.”

The Accrington Stanley team also discussed their programme of shirt giveaways, run annually to local Year 3 schoolchildren. Stuart Andrew commented, “This is what’s really important about football clubs, because we know that they are rooted in their communities. They provide so many community activities as well as football for people to watch and enjoy. Those clubs, like here at Accrington Stanley, that are really investing in their community, show how important they are for all of our towns and villages.”

He further added, “As you can see, what an amazing facility this is. And it is just first-rate for a town like Accrington. I’m absolutely delighted to be here!”

Keep an eye on the Amazing Accrington website and social media channels for more news.