Barrow and Furness MP John Hutton was backing Barrow AFC’s new £500,000 study centre for success in 2004.

Mr Hutton visited the site of the Bluebirds Study Centre to find out more about the club’s plans to boost education.

The unit, which would be based at the Cross Bar, was a first for a non-league club, following in the footsteps of similar services already in place at Premier League clubs.

The programme followed the Playing for Success scheme, which used football to inspire children to learn and boost their literacy, numeracy and IT skills.

The centre was primarily aimed at children aged nine to 14 in both schools and after-school activities.

Mr Hutton said: “I strongly support the Bluebirds Study Centre and Playing for Success scheme.

“I feel it offers significant opportunities for young people to further develop themselves and use their energies in a positive manner.

“I am delighted that the club is participating as it reflects the fact that Barrow AFC is very much a community club.

“I am sure it is a model that will be looked on and replicated elsewhere.”

In 2006, Mr Hutton unveiled the £500,000 Bluebirds Study Centre in front of pupils, tutors and sponsors.

Joined by Bluey, the Bluebirds mascot, the MP toured the Holker Street facility.

Students from Alfred Barrow School greeted Mr Hutton and guests, while pupils from St Bernard's Catholic High School read football-themed poetry. Mr Hutton also chatted with pupils from Victoria Junior School who were working on the centre's computers.

The MP said the facility was a fantastic asset for young people in the town.

Barrow AFC chairman Brian Keen said "Our football club is delighted that the study centre initiative has been so successful to date.

"The club has a role to play in the community, not only on the pitch but also off it."