Boundary Park, home of National League football club Oldham Athletic, will host matches played by the town’s rugby league team from next year after plans were announced to invest £1m (€1.1m/$1.2m) into the stadium’s pitch.
Funding for the high-specification pitch will be covered by Oldham Council and it is hoped the investment will enhance provision for Oldham RLFC players.
Oldham RLFC, nicknamed the Roughyeds, plays in the third-tier RFL League 1. Under the new agreement, the club will work with Oldham Athletic to enhance community sports provision for the local area.
The collaboration is designed to unlock opportunities for wider investment that will improve education, health and employment in the area. The agreement also secures the future of the rugby league team in the town.
The quality of the current pitch at Boundary Park needs to be upgraded so it can be used 100-plus times a year by a range of tenants. The enhanced pitch facilities would also be available for Oldham schools and colleges. It will mark the most extensive upgrade to the stadium’s pitch in 23 years.
The Rothwell family, which owns Oldham Athletic, reached an agreement to secure ownership of Boundary Park in August last year. It came after local businessman Frank Rothwell completed his takeover of the club earlier in the summer, ending Abdallah Lemsagam’s turbulent spell as owner.
In a statement, the board of Oldham Athletic said: “Since the takeover of the football club last summer, significant time has been invested in developing a wonderful relationship with Oldham Council and Oldham Rugby League Football Club, and this is a hugely exciting step forward in the strengthening of that bond.
“As a club, we want to be a focal point in ensuring our town thrives in a sporting capacity and that the many benefits of sport are felt throughout the local community, whether it be through participation or the enjoyment of following a successful team.
“Like ourselves, Oldham Rugby League Football Club have a proud history and we are thrilled to have this opportunity to work closely with them in pursuit of a bright future for Oldham. As we look forward, the make-up of our pitch will ensure we have a first-class playing surface for football whilst also being able to accommodate additional fixtures.
“It is our aim to see Boundary Park Stadium become the centrepiece for sporting activity in the town and beyond, achieving our goal of becoming a football club that can say it truly works for the benefit of its community.”
A spokesperson for Oldham RLFC added: “To have the privilege of returning to Boundary Park Stadium – a sporting venue of great character, tradition and potential – is a real honour and one which provides a huge platform for us to develop.
“As a sport, rugby league is built upon an ethos which centres around being a friendly, family and community game, and there is no better way to showcase these qualities than by strengthening our ties with Oldham Athletic and friends around the town.”
Oldham is the first club that has played in the Premier League to be relegated from English football’s top four divisions. The club is currently 15th after 37 games of the 2022-23 National League season.