THE team behind an ambitious vision for a new grassroots football centre of excellence in Winsford hopes to release firm plans this summer.

Coronavirus has somewhat slowed down progress on Vision 2020 – the £70 million Cheshire FA project earmarked for the Knights Grange site.

But Stuart Manifould, managing director for Vision 2020, insists work is taking shape.

He hopes that a firm planning application can be lodged with Cheshire West and Chester Council later this summer, and that ongoing negotiations with a hotel for the complex will soon be concluded.

“We are in the middle of a global pandemic and it is having an impact,” Stuart told the Guardian.

“We can’t meet anyone face-to-face at the moment, so it is difficult to get things done, but the project is moving on as fast as it possibly can.”

While plans are currently being updated before being sent off to CWAC, Cheshire FA has previously announced its intention for a new 3,000-capacity stadium, plus two outdoor 3G pitches, one indoor 3G pitch, a medical facility, an outdoor activity centre, and a hotel and spa.

Social distancing measures set out by Government to help tackle Covid-19 are currently preventing the necessary ecological work that needs to take place before Stuart’s team can submit a planning application to the council.

That is proving to be the main stumbling block for the scheme during the pandemic along with the lack of face-to-face meetings.

But with work on deigns soon to be complete and talks with a hotel firm ongoing, Stuart is as keen as ever to see the project over the line.

He added: “I would not say that everything is on hold at the moment, but things that need to be done are difficult at the moment.

“We just need to wait for all the rules to be relaxed so we can get back to working at 100mph.

“Hopefully that will be fairly soon – but how long is a piece of string?”

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Stuart had hoped to send off the planning application at the end of February, but if is lodged with council chiefs this summer, Cheshire FA could still get the green light to begin work before the end of 2020.

The scheme was originally set to be built in Northwich, but the plans were changed to Winsford last year.

Cheshire FA is set to move to the site from Moss Farm, 1874 Northwich are expected to move in, and other teams could follow.