VIDEO: Sheffield FC's stadium plans backed by 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar
An ambitious plan to build a stadium on theÂ site where world football began in Sheffield has moved a step closer -Â Â after 2022 World Cup hostsÂ Qatar pledged their support to the scheme.
Sheffield FC, the world's oldest football club, has spent much of its illustrious history without a permanent home and it has been the club's long held ambition to return to the Olive Grove sports ground where it all began in 1857.
Club founders developed the first set of rules for the game and played their first matches at the Heeley site - a move which spawned the modern game leading to 350,000 clubs, 300 million active players and 1.6 billion fans worldwide.
And now the club has secured the vital support of the Gulf state in its quest to turn their footballing dream into a reality.
A delegation of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is leading the construction of stadiums and infrastructure ahead of the 2022 World Cup, visited for the first time on Thursday to meet with club officials and to tour the site.
A team from AFL Architects, which designed the National Football Museum in Manchester, also revealed proposals for a stadium, car park and visitor centre celebrating the role the club has played in the beautiful game.
Club chairman Richard Tims described Sheffield FC as the "original pioneers" of the game and Qatar as the "new pioneers."
He added: "We want to relocate back to the home of football. This will be a great move for the city."
Mr Tims said the history of the club would form an important part of the site which he believes could become an "international tourist centre" for football fans internationally.
Qatar has not pledged funds for the scheme at this stage and the visit was seen as a way of establishing links and getting the ball rolling.
A previous appeal launched in 2015 to raise £2 million for the project yielded about £40, 000 but there are hopes the visit will help to kick start the project again.
Mr Tims said he hopes "Qatar will be the catalyst" and urged the "rest of the world of football" to back the plans.
Chelsea FC have been the first club to answer the call and pledged £1905 to the fund - a nod to the year of their formation.
Mr Tims said: "Every football fan in the world should want to come here to the home of football.
"If we can encourage other clubs and fans to join the campaign then we can make a difference."
David Davies, a former executive director of the Football Association who attended Sheffield University, said: "This is a hugely diverse group of people from all different backgrounds and it is an example of how football can bring people together.
"Qatar should be highly commended for their support but I would like to see more support from the football community in this country."
The partnership follows previous meetings between Mr Tims and Sheffield University-educated Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of Qatar’s Word Cup supreme committee.
Former University of Sheffield law student Mr Al Thawadi was a visitor to Wednesday and United when he lived in the city and struck up a relationship with the club.
He said: "We are very proud of this club and we are happy to support them in whatever way we can. We want to give back to Sheffield."
AFL Architects unveiled plans for a stadium, which included an enclosed stand along the length of the pitch.
There would also be a heritage centre showing the origins of the game and a section about the forthcoming Qatar World Cup to show the 'journey of football'. Other interactive features could include giving visitors the chance to kick a ball into a virtual goal.
The club has worked closely with the committee of the current sports club at Olive Grove to develop future plans of the site and Sheffield Council has also supported the move and is thought to have held discussions about using the land on a lease basis.
The club played at Olive Grove for a number of years before moving around various venues including Don Valley Stadium before settling at the Coach and Horses Ground in Dronfield, north Derbyshire, in 2001.
They will continue to play in Dronfield until they are able to move into their new home on the club's original site.
The scheme will need planning approval before getting the go ahead.
The club did not announce timescales for the whole project, but subject to raising the necessary funds Mr Tims said the building work would take two years to complete.
He added residents around the site would be kept in the picture as the scheme progresses.