The news that the National Football Museum, situated at Deepdale, is considering a move to pastures new is disappointing, but can be of little surprise to anyone.Advertisement
The facility has relied heavily on public subsidy since its launch in 2001, with the Northwest Development Agency, in particular, providing the necessary resource to keep the museum afloat.
Anyone who has visited the museum cannot help but be impressed with the way in which it has presented the history and tradition of the beautiful game to its estimated 100,000 annual visitors. However, has it done enough to maximise its potential, engage with the local business community and, most importantly, provide an offering that is attractive to the younger generation.
For those of my generation and older the football museum is full of memories and memorabilia that take us back to a golden age never to be seen again. To kids and twentysomethings, it is what it says on the tin. A museum- and a pretty boring one at that.
Where is the opportunity to interact; to participate? Computer games, penalty shoot out competitions, the chance to meet today’s soccer stars. And, from a money spinning perspective, where are the merchandise sales?
The museum has missed a trick in failing to recognise the need to modernise and that lesson needs to be learnt if we are successful in the campaign to keep the facility in our city.
Nevertheless, there are good arguments to support our campaign.
I am told that to move the facility a cost of between £6 and £8 million will be incurred. It is also the case that much of the archive would have to remain in Preston, come what may.
From a social inclusion aspect, too, Deepdale represents the type of area that NEEDS to have this kind of attraction. And from a regional perspective, isn’t there a need to have a balance of offerings across the North West? Surely it is unhealthy to house everything in Manchester and Liverpool.
It is true, too, that the lack of support from the professional football organisations is nothing short of a disgrace. For the FA, the Premiership and the Football League to turn their backs on a venue that provides the community with the opportunity of witnessing and celebrating the games rich tradition and superb heritage tells us a lot about the folk who run our national sport today.
For the monthly salary of an average Premiership player, the museum could be saved. It is the football authorities; not the public sector, nor the private sector of Lancashire, who need to cough up. It’s the cash rich soccer industry, which needs to demonstrate that it can still identify the value, as well as the cost, of something.
Image credit to Unhindered by Talent
This is a guest post by Frank McKenna. He is the chairman of Downtown Preston in Business and blogs at Downtown Preston in Business Blog.