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Betfred founder donates £6m to create Manchester sports centre

Fred Done

Fred Done, the founder of Warrington-headquartered Betfred, has made a personal £6m donation to create a sports and training centre in East Manchester for young people.

The facility will be built on the site of the former Gorton Baths and construction is due to start in spring 2019 and create 50 jobs.

The Salford-born billionaire was inspired to support the development after seeing the impact an identical centre had in Wigan.

It will include an indoor climbing wall, 3G kick pitch, fully equipped gym, four court sports hall, a dance and drama studio, training kitchen, arts and crafts studio. All this will be available to young people for 50p per visit.

Done said: “Manchester is a city close to my heart and is full of bright and talented young people who need somewhere safe and affordable to go, a place where they can discover their talents and develop their skills to achieve their full potential.

“The Youth Zone will provide opportunities for thousands of young people and I’m delighted to be part of such a life-changing project.

“Naturally a state-of-the-art facility such as this will need support from many more local businesses in order to give its members the best possible experience and I’d like to directly appeal to them to get involved.”

The centre is being delivered by Manchester Council which has contributed £1.5m capital funding towards construction by providing the land free, and will provide more funding to cover running costs.

It is scheduled to open in 2020 and will provide facilities for those aged eight to 19, or up to 25 for those with additional needs.

Allan Grafton, a community volunteer involved in dozens of projects over the last five decades, in Gorton, said: “It is absolutely fantastic for Gorton. There is a crying need for a facility like this in Gorton. As well as helping young people stay active it will help them get training and back into work.

“It would not be happening without Mr Done. I have spoken to him about it and he has visited other such centres, but he wants this one to be the best. The council are supporting it too and I know local Gorton councillors have been pushing for it.”

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