By Luke Power and Matt Styles
Palatinate can reveal that Durham Women are set to play their football at a new, purpose-built stadium on the site of the University’s sports park, following an exclusive interview with the club’s manager, Lee Sanders.
A new stadium is currently being developed for the Wildcats in and around the track crumb (3G3), with the project now planned to be finished by Christmas after setbacks caused by Covid-19 restrictions. The club are in the process of building a 500-seat stand situated in front of the changing rooms. The stand will have between 15 and 30 press seats.
Whether students will be allowed to use 3G3 remains a decision for the University to make. According to Sanders, “there has to be some sensible discussion about usage. Pitches have got to pass tests and things like that, so if it’s hammered everyday it’s not going to last very long. But ultimately it’s not my position to say who is going to be on there and who is not”.
Sanders told Palatinate that the ground is going to look new and modern, with the TV gantry set to be installed in the next few weeks. Games will be streamed live on the FA Player and potentially via the club’s YouTube channel as well.
The fence line that faces the changing room has been removed, with the other three sides boarded up with advertising boards. The perimeter fence will also be covered in to prevent people from seeing the game from outside the stadium.
Sanders is excited about the move and hopes that it will increase the number of spectators, particularly from the student community.
“Getting actual bums on seats and people coming to stand round the fence to watch the game is the main drive for me.
“It will start to look more like a mini stadium, and hopefully a lot more students will come and watch and get involved. Because it’s a really good standard, you will at some point have players from all over the world playing there, and we’ve got a few international players ourselves.
“The bigger the crowds are, the more the interest we’ll get from the FA and terrestrial TV channels, and the more coverage we’ll get.”
Durham Women begin their league campaign in the Women’s Championship against Liverpool on Sunday 6th September.
They are a side with an incredible story and are serial high achievers. Sanders is aiming for promotion to the Super League this year after Covid-19 cut short the club’s challenge for 1st place last season. It is an exciting time for the Wildcats, and Palatinate wishes Lee and his team all the very best for the upcoming campaign.
Image: Ethan Whiting