Discussions are underway about Sunderland’s Monkwearmouth Station Museum taking on a new life as a football museum.
The attraction could become home to a museum dedicated to celebrating all things football this summer.
The Fans Museum is the brainchild of Michael Ganley, a lifelong football fan, who has amassed a huge collection of valuable footballing memorabilia over the last thirty years.
Consisting of shirts, tickets, balls medals, cups and much more, Michael first started displaying the collection on 2014, the year Sunderland AFC reached the League Cup Final at Wembley.
In almost three years on the road, the touring exhibition has visited events and charity fund-raising benefits across the North East, attracting more than 100,000 visitors of all ages, ranging from six days all the way up to 101 years.
Now following a search to find a permanent home for his growing collection, Michael is interested in leasing Monkwearmouth Station Museum from Sunderland City Council.
Councillor John Kelly, Portfolio Holder for Culture. said: "We've spent the last year working with partners to look at all the options for preserving and maintaining the Grade 2*listed building. We're delighted to be talking to Michael about the potential for it becoming a football museum.
"Anyone who knows the city knows how passionate people in Sunderland are about their football so I think it has the real potential to be a success.
"Football plays a key role in the cultural life of the north east and you only have to look at number of people who have visited the touring exhibition to see that there's a real appetite for football memorabilia and football related activities. This could be an opportunity to provide a vibrant cultural offer from a fantastic building.
"But we were also impressed with the community links Michael has built up over the years and his plans for working in partnership with the likes of Beamish Museum, the University of Sunderland, the UK City of Culture Bid, the Tall Ships Races, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and the Prince's Trust."
Michael Ganley said: "We are delighted to be working towards securing Monkwearmouth Station Museum as the permanent home of The Fans Museum.
"The team of volunteers and myself have been working hard for a long time now to build up the reputation of the organisation and this really is the cherry on top.
"By having a permanent home for our football collection, it will give us real scope to progress and develop the work we are doing with youngsters, and the elderly along with all community groups and the general public.
"To be using a site of such historical value and significance is magnificent news for us and we think we will inject a new lease of life into the venue, and enhance the City's 2021 Cultural Bid, as well as encourage more community engagement of all ages. We are very much look forward to working alongside Sunderland City Council Museums and Heritage team and other cultural partners over the coming months.
"Myself and the team cannot wait to get started."
The museum will remain open in its current form until the end of March. It will then need to close for a couple of months while the current collection is decommissioned and relocated and the new exhibits are put in place. Should the football museum go ahead, some of the museum collection will remain on site in the short term and continue to be managed and cared for by curatorial staff at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens with some smaller items relocating to alternative museum either locally and/or across the region.
It is anticipated the football museum will also work closely with staff at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens on shared programme and activity over the coming months to offer residents and visitors continued access to Monkwearmouth Station Museum and its overall cultural offer.