In a big blow to British swimming, storied facility Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, host of past British Championships and the FINA World Diving Cup, will remain closed indefinitely.
The not-for-profit management company Sheffield City Trust (SCT), which manages Ponds Forge among its 13 fitness and leisure venues across the region, says the financial implication of the pandemic is forcing the organization to make some difficult decisions.
In addition to Ponds Forge remaining closed until further notice, 300 jobs are also on the chopping block.
As reported by The Star, Andrew Snelling, chief executive of SCT, said, “It is with regret that I can confirm that we have begun discussions with some of our employees regarding their roles. This is never a decision any organisation wishes to make, but it is one which we’ve taken to protect our long-term future.”
Despite the Sheffield Council today announcing it will be investing a further £15 million into SCT to enable it to reopen venues, Snelling says, “Reopening facilities carries with it a significant financial risk with huge costs associated with operating facilities and venues, especially those that include large-scale swimming pools.
“Although not all of our venues will be in a position to immediately reopen, without the investment from Sheffield Council, none of our facilities would have been financially viable to open. And we must really thank them for acknowledging the importance of health and wellbeing – especially at this time.”
“It’s important to reiterate; we have no plans to close down Ponds Forge permanently. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and look to open more facilities across our estate as soon as is practical and reasonable to do so, says Snelling.(The Star)
It’s devastating for the swimming, diving and water polo clubs based there, for the staff who work there, for the generation of youngsters who would have learned how to swim there – and for the thousands who have enjoyed taking part in our national events and other major international competitions over the years.
For our diving community, the situation looks frustratingly dire.
Ponds Forge is one of a very small number of bespoke diving facilities in England and was home to our National Junior Diving Championships and we are now looking to re-home the Sheffield vibrant diving community as well as our water polo and swimming clubs.”