Premier League player buys 11th-tier football club to ‘take it to next level’

Steve Cook has enjoyed quite the summer.

Last month, the Nottingham Forest defender helped his side seal a Premier League return after winning the Championship play-off final at Wembley against Huddersfield.

Cook was at the heart of the Reds’ defence as they clinched a shut-out in a tense but deserved 1-0 win under the famous arch. That helped end Forest’s absence from the top flight after 23 painful years.

Now, the 31-year-old has achieved one of his ambitions – by taking over his local non-league club. Cook has confirmed he is providing financial support to Westfield FC. Cook began his career at nearby Brighton and, despite going on to play for Bournemouth for a decade and now Forest, he has retained a strong interest in Westfield.

The club finished mid-table in the 11th-tier Mid-Sussex Premier League last season and are based just north of Hastings. A club statement said: “This is a major step for the Westies in securing the long-term future of the club, with a new ground on the horizon, the club’s ambition, family ethos and inclusion matches Steve’s vision and the partnership has been formed.”

Forest defender Cook wrote on Twitter : “I am delighted to get this over the line. The opportunity arose as I’m close to my family. The idea fitted with my current ambitions and looking to help progress local football. I am looking forward to adding to this great club and helping to take it to the next level.”

Steve Cook helped Nottingham Forest seal promotion to the Premier League

Westfield chairman Jack Stapley said: “I’ve known Steve a long time and this has been a long few months of talks that have brought us to this point.

“It’s a fantastic time to be involved with the club that now has six adult teams and eight youth teams, a new ground happening and a chance to kick the club onto bigger things. Steve matches the ambition of the club and he can not wait to get started.

“The club are sure there will be plenty of questions regarding this change, but we feel there are so many benefits to having Steve involved with the club. He’s currently taking his Pro Licence badges, so the coaches can tap into his knowledge of that – and his experience within football and of how it is run is endless.

“This is a real catalyst for the club to grow organically with the ambitions we have set to get back to senior football on the adult side and grow the youth teams to match this. We currently have 51% of our adult section out of 120 players that have previously played for a Westfield youth team and want to raise that as the time goes by and the facilities grow.”

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