Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of! Football Finance

Farewell to Preston

Posted by John Beech on May 9, 2010

Without a great deal of publicity, at the end of April the National Football Museum closed its doors at the Deepdale Stadium in Preston. Anyone wishing to pay an act of homage to the great history and heritage of English football will now have to wait until Autumn of next year when it will reopen in Manchester.

I’ve no wish to reopen debate on why this move is taking place, and in any case it is too late to change the plans, other than to say that I thought a move to London, as proposed by Brian Mawhinney (1), was a non-starter – the Ribble Valley and Preston in particular is to me, a born and bred Southerner, the spiritual home of professional football, and still the home of the Football League.  I would however offer some thoughts on what is happening.

To any visitor, the site at Deepdale struck as sub-optimal.  The layout of the Museum was quirky, resulting from it being wedged into a Championship stadium, and space was cramped, resulting in a high ratio of reserve material to material on display.

A move to London would certainly have been inappropriate, but I’m not 100% convinced that Manchester is the right location.  Is it any more appropriate than say Liverpool, with all the talk of a new ‘Football Quarter‘?  Personally I would have preferred it stay in Preston but in a new custom-built centre.

Apart from the fact that the Museum is now closed for over a year – surely to goodness this could have been avoided – there is a second negative impact as a result of the move.  The National Football Museum has established a strong partnership with the University of Central Lancashire’s International Football Institute, a synergy which has already generated some very useful research and publications.  Although this synergy should in theory continue unabated, I can’t help feeling that the Museum and the research activity will tend to drift apart and that work for my colleagues at UCLan will be just that bit more problematic, neither of which is a positive step.

I suppose we should just be grateful that the Premier League haven’t stepped in with an utterly selfless gesture to house it in a cellar in Gloucester Place.

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