Oldham RLFC set sights on return to home ground in borough

OLDHAM RLFC has confirmed that, subject to final approval by the Rugby Football League, Roughyeds will return to the borough next season after playing at Bower Fold, Stalybridge in 2016 and 2017.

They are set to move back to what was their home venue from 2010 to the end of their 2015 promotion campaign, then known as Whitebank and now renamed The Vestacare Stadium and occupied by Avro Football Club after a major refurbishment.

Oldham RL chairman Chris Hamilton said: “We hope to be back playing in the borough in 2018.

“Talks with Oldham Council, Avro FC and the RFL have been ongoing for a considerable period of time.

“Everything for our return to The Vestacare Stadium is agreed with the Council and with Avro.

“There are still one or two final details to be approved by the RFL but we hope to get those sorted reasonably quickly. We are waiting for them to get back to us so that we can then get final approval and dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s.

“It will be good to be back in Oldham.

“Significant investment has gone into The Vestacare Stadium which, among other major improvements, now boasts a first-class artificial pitch. The old slope has gone.

“Our lads trained on the new surface at the end of last season. They liked it and they are looking forward to training and playing on it next season.

“We want it to become a Roughyeds’ fortress as it was when we played there previously.”

The club kept its office and administrative base at the ground throughout the two seasons it played home games at Stalybridge.

Said Avro FC chairman Rob Fuller: “We hope to work closely with Oldham RLFC and forge a good partnership.

“We extend a big welcome to Roughyeds fans and hope they enjoy The Vestacare Stadium and all the improvements that have been made.

“We’ll also be working closely with the Council — and The Vestacare Stadium will be a community facility which will be available for hire.”

He said the clubhouse was fully refurbished with a new heating system and new ceilings, furniture and bars.

Other improvements included a new grass pitch, new outdoor toilets, renewed floodlighting and a general sprucing-up of the stadium as a whole.

Roughyeds, meanwhile, are preparing for life in League 1 and openly planning for an all-out assault on regaining Championship status at the first attempt.

Having lost Oxford and Gloucester All Golds, who are to combine; relocate to Bristol; and apply to re-enter League 1 as a new club in 2019, there will be 14 teams in the division.

For the first time for a few years at this level it will be a genuine home-and-away league with each team having 13 home games and 13 away.

Oldham are happy about that and are gearing-up to playing Bradford Bulls, Whitehaven, Workington Town, Hunslet, Keighley Cougars, York City Knights, Coventry Bears, Newcastle Thunder, Doncaster, London Skolars, Hemel Stags, North Wales Crusaders and South Wales.

They’ve 17 players under contract already, including new personnel in Paul Crook, Luke Nelmes, Danny Rasool, Kyran Johnson, Dave Eccleston and Matt Reid.

The club is currently working on fixing up pre-season games, details to be announced soon.

Once everything is tied up regarding the ground, Roughyeds will also announce match-day and season-ticket prices with the offers that will be made available.

League 1 fixtures will be announced at 8am on November 15.


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