Closing museum 'could damage World Cup bid'

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Closing the National Football Museum in Preston could damage England's World Cup bid for 2018.

That is the view of Northwest Development Agency (NWDA) chief executive Steven Broomhead who says he hopes the attraction will stay open until after the World Cup in South Africa, which ends in July.

But he denied the NWDA had provided extra cash to keep the museum open for four months beyond its original New Year's Eve closure date.

The museum is set to move from Deepdale to the Manchester Urbis exhibition centre in summer 2011, though efforts are still being made to keep a site in Preston.

Mr Broomhead said: "The museum in Preston will remain open for a period of time and I hope that will be until the end of the World Cup. We are still considering our position (on funding) on this, we'll see how it goes.

"My position is I want to see a National Football Museum open in the region and if it's not open, you have to think of any message that may give when trying to land the 2018 World Cup.

"I'm worried about that message.

"I understand they (museum bosses) have been able to draw some money from the Department for Culture, Media and sport but we have not advanced any further funding to it."

Mr Broomhead, who said he organised a private meeting between Lancashire and Manchester bosses before Christmas, also reaffirmed his agency cannot give "any funding support at this time" to help cover 8m costs to relocate the Manchester site.

He added: "I was stopped in the pub at Christmas by someone who said his two kids came up to say all they wanted for Christmas was to keep the National Football Museum in Preston."

Meanwhile, Manchester Council's opposition leader Lib Dem Coun Simon Ashley, who is backing the move, said he believed parts of Manchester's northern quarter would be sold off to stave off city taxpayers footing the 8m relocation costs.

He told the Evening Post: "Around the northern quarter, where the museum is going to be placed, our perception is the money would come from selling off pieces of land or developing it.

"It won't come from the taxpayer.

"But if you pay money for this, it can't be spent on other things. I think this (the football museum) is a priority for the city.

"Already Urbis has 2m-a-year spent on it of council taxpayers' money. When that started, we were very critical as an opposition and we have been looking for something sustainable to happen for years.

"To us, it makes sense to have a proper use and this would be 2m that's for something people want to see rather than something they don't want to see."

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport told the Evening Post it had given 105,000 towards the museum for 2009/10 with 108,000 on the way for 2010/11.

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