AFTER two years of speculation it has been revealed that Corringham’s Pegasus Club is to become an international football hub with facilities to match training grounds of top teams like Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur – as well as reopening its doors as a members’ club.
Now known as The Pegasus Country Club, the 22-acre facility was bought by Malaysian businessman Dato’ Abdullah Taib last month for an undisclosed figure, believed to be around the £1m mark reports The Thurrock Enquirer.
The new management, headed up by general manager Ahmad Shah, want to put residents’ minds at rest about rumours that have been circulating over the last few months about the club’s future.
Mr Shah told the Enquirer: “We are not going to turn it into a plush hotel, or build a housing estate! We want to maintain and improve facilities as well as upgrade the site into an international sporting club.”
Mr Taib plans to build a badminton hall and hockey pitch, upgrade gym facilities and generally give the club a facelift, with a soft opening scheduled for 1 August.
Mr Shah continued: “This place has been going since 1961 with lots of community involvement, we intend to continue this tradition.”
As for the international training hub, Mr Taib and his associates plan on creating a “Premier League level” football pitch, aiming to encourage Asian teams to the UK so they can “acclimatise to the European standard” by training at the club and playing quality English teams.
The sale of The Pegasus Club to Mr Taib, who also owns Norlan United, a Malaysian construction company, has apparently generated interest from the Malaysian government – who will encourage their country’s best football teams to look into training in Thurrock.
In recent weeks dignitaries including the Malaysian High Commissioner have visited the club, and the Malaysian Minister for Youth and Sports will tour the facilities later in the summer.
The new owner hopes the UK government will take a similar interest in the new and improved club.
Mr Shah said: “The Premier League quality pitch will open up the area to FA and UEFA coaches. Football is the number one sport in England and Asian teams look here for guidance. We do not have the same expertise in Asia.
“The benchmark we are aiming for in the next decade or so is the training grounds of teams like Arsenal and Spurs. We also plan to build a an indoor futsol (five-aside) pitch.
“Of course, all these excellent facilities will be there for the community to use also – we hope this will help bring about a rise in membership.”
However the management team were vague on details, with it being as yet unclear whether a spectators’ stand is planned for the new pitch.
The new clubhouse manager Martin Hathaway, who was formally the club general manager, said: “I’m not sure at this stage, I wouldn’t have thought so as it will predominantly be used for training. I can’t give a definite answer.”
Designated premises supervisor (license holder) Stefan Rogocki, formerly the Peg Club chairman,is keen to point out that the owner’s international plans will not isolate local people.
He said: “We will not forget the people of Thurrock in all of this, Martin and I will be responsible for the community aspect and as we’ve both done the job before we know how to satisfy expectations.”
Mr Shah said the Pegasus’s reopening will also create employment for local people, but he was unwilling to estimate exactly how many jobs will be available.
Among those bidding to buy the Pegasus Club were East Thurrock United, who hoped to turn the club into their new home and run it as a community sport hub with a 3G pitch and other multi-sports facilities. Thurrock leisure services operator Impulse Leisure also expressed their interest in the site.