A LEAGUE Two football team have settled into their new training home in Knutsford this week – more than 100 miles away from their home ground.

Cumbria club Barrow AFC have struck a deal to train at the home of non-league Knutsford side, Egerton FC – who sit seven divisions below Barrow in the Cheshire League Premier Division and, more notably, 109 miles away on the map.

Barrow AFC, who play in Sky Bet League Two after earning promotion from the National League last season, held their first session at Mereheath Lane yesterday.

The club have not trained in Barrow-in-Furness for several years, with the reasons understood to be surrounding its remote location and the difficulty of attracting players to live and work in the town.

In a question and answer session with supporters, manager David Dunn, who is a former Premier League footballer and one-time England international, explained that the move was due to the standard of the pitches at the club’s previous training ground – Hopwood Hall College Sports Arena in Middleton.

Knutsford Guardian:

“I’ve been at some wonderful training grounds over my career and it’s great to have facilities like that, but the main facility you can have is a good pitch,” said the former Blackburn Rovers midfielder.

“I’ve never made it an excuse over these last three months since we’ve been back, but the pitches have been really challenging.

“One – you can’t practise what you want to do on a Saturday because of the surface. Two – it’s a real danger for getting injured.”

Egerton are also hoping to benefit from the move, which happened after a Mobberley resident who sits on the board of directors at Barrow drew the Football League club’s attention to the opportunity.

The fact that the professional outfit have moved to Egerton for the quality of the pitches is a huge compliment to the Cheshire League side, but it is not surprising to Egerton chairman Tom O'Donnell.

“Our pitches are some of the best around and will provide a great base for Barrow," he said.

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“Daytime use helps support the significant running cost of the facility so that it is able to achieve its key aim of providing facilities to the youth of Knutsford.

Knutsford Guardian:

“With Covid-19, this has been financially challenging for us, as we are a charity which is not receiving any local authority support for providing these facilities.”

The two clubs are also in discussions over several initiatives, including the revival of a football education programme for 16 to 19-year-olds in 2021.