The National Football Museum is to introduce entry charges of up to £10 in the new year.
The move is part of a bid for the museum – one of Manchester’s top visitor attractions – to become financially self-sustaining and “more responsive to community needs.”
Entry has been free to the museum’s annual 400,000 visitors since it moved to Manchester from Preston in 2012. Charges will start from 14 January 2019 but will not apply to Manchester residents and Manchester schools, for whom entry will remain free.
The introduction of charges comes as the museum – currently mainly funded by Manchester city council – seeks to improve its cultural and historical offer by staging regular special events and exhibitions and devoting much more space to the story of women’s football.
The story of women’s football will now be woven into the existing exhibition space, with ongoing enhancements taking place throughout 2019.
Visitors from outside the city will have the opportunity to buy a one-off ticket that will allow them to come back to visit a rolling programme of events and exhibitions as many times as they want for a whole year. Funds from charging will be invested back into the newly formed National Football Museum Community section of the charity.
This will focus on new opportunities for volunteers; a changing programme of public events and special exhibitions and community projects. With hundreds of thousands of visitors coming through the doors every year from all over the world, the National Football Museum is ambitious to achieve more, with further adult learning courses, and fortnightly football memories sessions for people living with dementia.
A programme of regular evening events is also in the pipeline. There are plans to attract large-scale temporary exhibitions to broaden the appeal of the museum even more.
The World Cup area of the museum will be revamped, detailing the story of England’s journey from 1950 to World Cup glory in 1966 and looking at how the team have fared since then.
Alongside entry to the main exhibition space across four floors, the new pricing structure means that the majority of the current optional add-on costs in the museum will now be included in the entrance fee.
The only exclusion from 14 January will be the Penalty Shootout experience area, which will cost £2 per person for three penalties.
Sir Bobby Charlton, the museum’s president, said: “I welcome the commitment to more reflect the role that football plays in all of our lives.
“By doing so it will showcase the full diversity of the game and the positive role it has played, and will play, in the future of our country. I look forward to seeing the positive steps that the museum is taking to reach out to communities across Manchester to show that the game can be a genuine force for good that can help people as well as bringing them enormous joy.”
An annual ticket will be £10 for adults; £5 for children aged 5-15; and £8 for seniors, students and the unemployed.
The museum will close on 31st December 2018 to allow for changes to some of the spaces and exhibitions and reopen on 14th January 2019 at 1pm .