Future of club in jeopardy if council won't support plans, says Reds chairman (From Redditch Advertiser)
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Future of club in jeopardy if council won't support plans, says Reds chairman
2:17pm Tuesday 22nd October 2013 in News
THE chairman of Redditch United Football Club says that unless Redditch Council gets behind ambitious plans for a move to a new state-of-the art, multi-million pound facility, then the club’s future is in very real jeopardy.
Club bosses say the move is essential to ensure the club’s long-term survival and say they cannot understand why Redditch Council does not want to move forward with the plans.
The club has earmarked council-owned land at Icknield Street Drive in Washford for the purpose-built facility which would include six grass pitches, a first team pitch and a 3G synthetic turf pitch. It would have a club house which effectively has two sections, one angled at the community, and the other side purely aimed at football. It would also include an increased number of changing rooms to the existing Bromsgrove Road site, which has just two.
Since club chairman Chris Swan bought the club in 2011, when it was in liquidation and severe debt, the number of youth and disability teams the club has launched has risen from just eight to 17, with another eight teams due to start next season.
It has also forged strong links with community organisations, schools and charities, including YMCA, NEW College, Pitcheroak School, Primrose Hospice, and many more.
Mr Swan, who covers the club’s £60,000 annual loss, claims the club initially looking at improving its existing site but when it approached the council with these plans, it was recommended that it looked at moving to a new site.
When Redditch United found a site and had Dutch Architect Ltd draw up the plans, and a project manager enlisted to look at the viability of the project, including all costings, it says the council simply said it did not wish to move the project further but would not give any reasons.
Mr Swan said: “With football clubs from the Premier League struggling to survive in these tough ecomonical times, it will take something radical to make sure that The Reds keep going. After two-and-a-half years of incredible hard work and soul searching, we are conviced that this is it.
“This is a fantastic club with a wonderful history, but to be brutally honest, the facilities at Valley Stadium are no longer acceptable on any level.
“The delapidated stands, the threadbare pitch, the drab changing facilities and outdated clubhouse do not match a club of this standing or this ambition, and certainly do not reflect the stature of the town the club represents.”
He said that with this new facility, and with the staff and support team which exists at Redditch United, he was convinced The Reds could rise to the Conference League within five years.
He added: “The multi-million pound cost of the development would be funded without any public monies. Three developers have expressed interest in purchasing Valley Stadium.
“Money from the sale of this (council-owned) land, along with funding from the Football Foundation (part of the Football Association), would pay for everything. Indeed, it should leave £1 million extra in council coffers.
“We are all extrememly frustrated with the council and its refusal to support us. But we will not take no for an answer when it comes to something which will be such a huge asset to the people of Redditch.”
He added that the club would not receive any form of windfall as part of the plans to sell the existing site, but that it would make £12,000 a year from the new facility, rather than its current £60,000 annual loss.
In response, Redditch Council has refuted the claim that it initiated the initial idea of relocation, or that it has not given its reasons for not wishing to move the scheme forward.
And in a letter to Mr Swan on September 26, which has now been seen by the Advertiser, the council’s deputy chief executive, Sue Hanley, has listed 10 reasons why it cannot support the scheme, following discussion with officers from leisure, planning, finance and property services.
Some of the reasons include that the land parcels proposed for the relocation of the club are designated primarily green open space or public open space and would need to be changed to leisure and residential use, and there are a number of costs associated with the scheme that need to be incurred upfront in order to progress the scheme, which would fall to the council.
It also stated that Redditch Council would take all the risk within the project, that officers were concerned with the proposed size of the scheme, and, while ambitious, the club development plan has some limitations and needs additional work to be regarded as one which supports the wider community.
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