National Football Museum Vows To Pick Preston Over Wembley

By Ben Miller | 16 December 2008
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A photo of a fountain outside a football stadium

(Above) The National Football Museum has been based at Deepdale in Preston for seven years. Picture courtesy National Football Museum

The Director of the National Football Museum has expressed his surprise after the chairman of the Football League appeared to suggest the museum should be moved to Wembley.

Former Conservative party Chairman Brian Mawhinney is alleged to have told MPs the exhibition would attract more visitors if it relocated to London.

Kevin Moore, who established the museum in 1997 before it moved to Preston North End’s Deepdale stadium in 2001, described the remarks as “disappointing”. “It’s not actually Lord Mawhinney’s decision where we’re based,” he said.

A picture of a family outside Preston's Deepdale stadium

The museum is popular with families and football fans. Pic courtesy National Football Museum

“We’re partly funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Football Foundation, so it’s not directly a matter for the Football League. I think it’s based on a misunderstanding that this is an either-or situation.”

Organisers from Preston have already been in negotiations with Wembley representatives, after discussions between the two sites were revived eight months ago following the protracted building project for the new national stadium.

A picture of people looking around the exhibition

Exhibits include shirts worn by the likes of Pele and Bobby Moore. Pic courtesy National Football Museum

“We’ve actually been in negotiations with Wembley for an exhibition there since 1998,” says Moore. “For very good reasons of heritage and history, and for an audience in the north and midlands, it’s been the policy of the trustees for ten years now that the headquarters would be in Preston, but we always had an exhibition in the south in mind.

"They’re very keen to work with us and we’re very keen to work with them, so that’s the truth behind it.”

Mawhinney’s comments have provoked fury among some fans and politicians. Mark Hendrick, Labour minister for Preston, has won support from 19 fellow MPs for an early day motion in which they “deplore” the potential move, and local newspaper the Lancashire Evening Post is planning to deliver messages from outraged fans to Mawhinney’s office in London.

A picture of the football World Cup trophy

The 1896 FA Cup is on display at the museum. Pic courtesy David Gold

“There’s huge potential for an exhibition at Wembley,” added Moore. “There are lots of other sports taking place there – greyhounds, rugby league, speedway, you name it, and then things like the Pope, Live Aid and the small matter of the Olympic Games."

"Preston’s our base but we work everywhere - we have a touring exhibition on the FA Cup that’s been going round the country, we loan to exhibitions and we regularly go overseas, so our remit is national and international.”

As a founding member of the Football League, whose offices are also based in the Lancashire city, Preston North End became the first team to win the league and FA Cup in 1988, and Deepdale is the world’s oldest professional football ground.

Sir Bobby Charlton has cited the museum as the best in the world, and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is a regular visitor to the homage for the beautiful game, which houses the ball from the 1966 World Cup final and a replica of the Jules Rimet World Cup trophy among a treasure trove of football memorabilia.

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