Football museum planned for 'home of the sport'

Trustees from the Sheffield Home of Football next to a blue plaque after its unveiling in the city.
A football museum in Sheffield would cost about £2m, campaigners say [Sheffield Home of Football]

Campaigners calling for Sheffield to be recognised as the "home of football" have said they remain confident that a museum dedicated to the sport will open in the city.

The Sheffield Home of Football (SHOF) charity said the "longer-term aspiration" would need about £2m in funding.

They even want Sheffield to be designated as a World Heritage Site for its contribution to football's history.

There are about 50 footballing "firsts" the city can lay claim to with evidence, including being the place where the modern rules of the game were invented and being home to the world's oldest club, Sheffield FC.

Historian and SHOF trustee Steve Wood said he was "convinced" funding opportunities would "come along at some point".

He said: "The short-term aspiration is to do all the things that can get us there."

Currently, Yorkshire has just two places that have been granted World Heritage Site status by Unesco; the village of Saltaire near Bradford, and Fountains Abbey near Ripon.

The charity argues that the significance of football to Sheffield is as important as the association between Liverpool and The Beatles.

The trustees have plans for regular walking tours and an app that will guide users around places of footballing interest.

Mr Wood said Sheffield "has the credentials" to be recognised by Unesco as the official home of football.

"If there's one place that can have that argument then it's Sheffield," he said.

"There isn't anywhere that comes close. It's all there really, in terms of making a claim."

'Sheffield's Cavern Club'

Last Saturday a blue plaque was unveiled at 9 East Parade in the city centre to commemorate Sir Nathaniel Creswick, a "founding father" of the game who worked in the building.

Other influential figures in the development of football lived and worked nearby, said Mr Wood.

"You associate Stratford with Shakespeare, you associate the Cavern Club in Liverpool with The Beatles.

"If you go to the Amazon and talk to the local people, show them a copy of Revolver, Shakespeare's books and a football, we are quite confident which one most people will recognise.

"Football is bigger than Shakespeare and The Beatles, so therefore 9 East Parade is Sheffield's Cavern Club."

The building itself - now a law firm's offices - would be too small for a museum, Mr Wood said.

"Nearby there are lots of buildings up for lease. There are possibilities in that part of the centre of Sheffield to develop something.

"A museum is still an aspiration for Sheffield because Sheffield, being the birthplace for football, does need somewhere to display things."

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