A FORMER social club will get a big money revamp and “Premier League” standard training facilities where the next generation of Asian football stars will be bred.
The Pegasus Country Club - formerly the Pegasus Sport and Social Club - was bought by multi-millionaire Malaysian businessman Dato’ (Sir) Abdullah Taib, we can reveal.
He now wants to divide the business between a local sports and social club while introducing an international training ground with a focus on training east Asian football teams to Premier League standard.
The deal has sparked interest in high places in Malaysia, with the London-based High Commissioner Dato Ahmad Rasidi Hazizi visiting on Monday.
Among the improvements anticipated at the 22-acre plot, at the end of Herd Lane, Corringham, will be five football pitches, one to Premier League specifications, a badminton court, squash court and facilities for futsal (a Brazilian variant of football usually played indoors).
General manager Ahmad Shah will be heading up the training club and promotions side of the business, while stalwarts Martin Hathaway and Stefan Rogocki will be manager and licensee of the social club, respectively.
Mr Shah said: “We want to make this place a hub for footballers from Asia to play against European teams of a relative standard.
“We don’t have that expertise in Malaysia and this opens up opportunities for us to train with FA qualified coaches from England.
“When we bought this place, we looked at that as one of our main considerations, but we won’t forget about the people who live in Corringham.
“The club had 2,500 members at its height and we want to keep those, that’s why we’ll be upgrading the club side, too.”
The sports club had been part of the Coryton oil refinery complex, owned by Swiss-based firm Petroplus, and has traditionally been a club for workers at the refinery site.
But when Petroplus went into administration two years ago, the refinery closed and the club was put up for sale – with Dato’ Abdullah seeing an advertisement in the Financial Times.
The club, which opened in 1961, ceased trading three weeks ago after its lease expired.
It is expected to open in August.