A MAJOR player behind the proposed new hockey centre in Worcester is “100 per cent confident” of funding an equity stake of approximately £500,000 – but won’t say how.

Worcester Hockey Club (WHC) vice-chairman Andy Waters insists the link up with Royal Grammar School (RGS) Worcester is “a robust, self-funding scheme” on the back of outcry over a £2.1million loan being made available for the project.

EXPLAINED | Q&A with vice-chairman details how new hockey venture will work 

Worcester City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee last week approved the loan to fund two hockey pitches on the site of the Old Porcelain ground which is set to be leased for 30 years for a peppercorn rent.

READ MORE | State-of-the-art hockey centre given green light by councillors

The joint venture will see WHC and RGS form a new entity to run the facility, which both will then use as well as hiring it out to external parties.

Critics have questioned the use of public money, which the council plans to access from the government’s Public Works Loans Board.

READ MORE | Chairman of homeless Worcester City calls for "a similar level of support" to hockey venture

“The equity stake from the joint venture will be something in the region of 25-27 per cent of the total cost of the facility,” said Mr Waters, who declined to comment on how much had been put in place for confidentiality reasons.

“I am 100 per cent confident the equity will be in place,” he added.

“The money is in place. There will be a need in the longer term to keep funds coming in but, with the equity going in at the start and the subsequent funding from the hockey club and RGS, it is a robust, self-funding scheme.

“The money will be available as and when. This project is hopefully going to be complete by autumn 2020 so there will be a requirement for funding on an ongoing basis.”

The council’s report deemed the loan “the only viable option currently available” to finance the project.

The money is set to be loaned after the facility is built, refinancing the joint venture’s borrowing to afford it a more favourable rate.

“The viability of the options comes down to market rates,” said Mr Waters.

“It is the best commercial option, the same as anyone would look for if they were going for a mortgage or buying a car.”

A council statement read: “The loan the city council is facilitating for the hockey development will help to keep down the bills of Worcester’s council taxpayers.

“The city council will access funding from the government’s Public Works Loan Board and will then lend it to Worcester Hockey Club and RGS Worcester at an interest rate of three per cent.

“Those partners will make annual payments over 30 years to pay back the loan and cover all interest costs, with sufficient left over to provide a small return to the council.”

Worcester Hockey Club members will vote on whether to sanction the proposals at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) tonight.