We explained that the Community-owned club deprived of the Camrose revenue streams was at serious risk of not surviving. This arose if we were forced to continue a financially unsustainable ground share at Winchester or elsewhere outside the borough for the 20/21 season.
As stated before it is ‘Crunch Time’ and decisions had to be made quickly. The Southern League and FA rules required us to notify where we would be playing by 31 March 2020.
Winklebury ground improvements
The only available solution was a committed programme of ground improvements at Winklebury Football Complex to meet the necessary ground grading standards. This would enable us to play competitive football at Winklebury as our home ground. We explained that minimal grade D improvements (our current league level) could be achieved for a relatively modest £150,000, with further enhancements at a later stage to bring up to the Camrose equivalent.
We needed certainty very quickly of such improvements to play at Winklebury to survive. Turning to Basron’s planning applications for the Camrose, we explained that they were unlikely to be considered until April at the earliest. And there was no certainty that it would give rise in good time to funding for Winklebury ground improvements to overcome Sport England’s objection to the loss of amenity. It could be years away by which time the Club would be dead.
Speaking on behalf of the Council, Cllr Simon Bound explained the council’s support to ensure the survival of the football club over recent years. With Cllr Rebecca Bean (the relevant Portfolio Holder/decision-maker) in attendance, he was able to announce separately that the Council had now just approached Hampshire FA, the long leaseholder of Winklebury Football Complex, to undertake a review of facilities at the site for all levels of football within the borough, looking at what was needed and what benefits would accrue to the wider community. The Council would be looking at what funds would be available.
Ian Walkom, Deputy Chairman of Hampshire FA, outlined actions HFA had taken to make a success of football in the borough and voiced full support for keeping Basingstoke Town FC alive. He indicated that the Council’s approach was positive and that HFA would work collaboratively with them, recognising there was much to do. Terry Brown, BTCFC Chairman, thanked Ian for HFA’s support of the Community Club to date.
Comments from Councillors
We would also like to thank
The many comments and contributions from councillors in attendance were universally in support of further investment in the facilities at Winklebury and for prompt action that would secure the future of the Community run club.
So, what can you do?
Plan to attend the Public Council meeting on the Council’s budget at 6.30pm on Thursday 27 February in our club colours. It’s important that our voice is heard and that the unified pressure of ensuring this clubs future is not just for its existence but for it to be given an opportunity to prosper.