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Ards propose school ground scheme with Movilla High

By Keith Bailie

Ards Football Club and Movilla High School are considering a partnership that could allow the exiled Championship One club to return to Newtownards.

Ards and Movilla are investigating the possibility of building a new sports ground on the school's town-centre premises that could host Irish League games and give pupils access to modern sporting facilities.

Although discussions are at a preliminary stage, it's believed that the modest arena would include a 3G pitch, changing rooms, floodlights and a seated stand for spectators.

Ards have not played in Newtownards since they vacated Castlereagh Park in 2002, with Movilla's acting principal, Ian Bell, explaining: "Ards Chairman Brian Adams approached us some time ago about a possible link-up between the school and the football club.

"The club made a presentation to our board of governors about the possibility of using our hockey pitches to build a new sports ground.

"Although things are at a very early stage it's an idea that appeals to us because we are a school that is at the heart of the community. We want to create a culture of ambition at Movilla High School and we see sport as a part of that.

"This would give our pupils access to high-end sports facilities as well as benefiting the rest of the community. However, there is a long way to go."

The proposal must receive approval from the Education Authority NI and then pass NI Planning Permission.

Adams said: "It's well documented that we have been trying to source land in Newtownards to build a new football ground.Since the collapse of the Floodgates project just over a year ago, we have engaged in a number of discussions with various parties with this aim in mind, and we will continue to do so until we achieve our long-term ambition of returning to Ards.

"However, any discussions that are currently ongoing are at a preliminary stage."

Tomorrow, Ards will face Larne in the quarter finals of the Intermediate Cup at the Bangor Fuels Arena venue they have shared with local rivals Bangor since 2012.

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