With the ongoing Coronavirus disruption causing the season to to be paused for the community ran club, one thing that remains a constant is the long term objectives of the club. Acting Chairman Kevin White is keen to stress the importance of the next steps in the clubs bid to secure a true future. Kevin has always been an advocate supporter of the much needed like for like stadium replacement caused by the loss of the Camrose that was imposed by the previous owner Rafi Razzak and his company Basron. With the club’s future more stable now being back in Basingstoke, he has continue to stress the view that there needs to be a long term option to support the clubs growth and ongoing community projects.
‘Our priority over the past 12 months has been to get us back to the town and in a better place financially. Returning to the town has allowed us to do that which means the 125 year history of the club is preserved and we can support the current and next generation of supporters make the next 125 years of memories. The next phase is getting support for a true like for like stadium.’ He continued ‘I want our club to achieve league football status and to do that sustainably as part of a true Community Club. To do that we need the support of the local council and the local people of the town. To enable us to do that we need to make the club a force for good and a hub of the community – to provide a club the town can be proud of.”
With the planning application at the clubs previous home ‘The Camrose’ unanimously turned down by councillors – it reignited renewed calls for the club to return to it’s previous home, something that White believes is a real possibility. ‘I would love to return to the Camrose, it is where my earliest football memories are from, but we must not ignore the size of that uphill battle to get back there. Firstly, money would need to be raised to finance it. Basron would have to be willing to sell to us and that’s before you look at the work that would need to be done to regenerate the ground. We do have some people looking into that at the moment – so we are working on it. However, if we are unable to return to the Camrose, then there needs to be a true second stadium. This is not just for our football club, but this is for the community of Basingstoke. A community hub that can serve local schools, local community groups – its so much bigger than a sporting facility. It should be the catalyst for great things within the town.’
Recently Kevin hosted a Winklebury residents meeting and trialled a supporters focus group. Fears were expressed that the club only see Winklebury as a short term option and would be looking to leave the site should an alternative be built. That was something he was quick to dismiss ‘I completely understand that people may see it that way, however we have some huge plans for the club and they absolutely involve Winklebury.’ He explained ‘We need to expand our youth teams and engage more with other local teams, we need to grow our Women’s section plus a Womens academy and that’s before we even look at our community plans such as a Walking football league, disabled and blind football and other initiatives.”
“Do I think Winklebury can sustain our mens first team when we start moving through the leagues? No I don’t. But we are more than just a first team and Winklebury is an important cog in the long term future of the club and somewhere to build the next phase of the clubs future from, it is massively exciting times to be a Basingstoke Town fan. Those fears of local Winklebury residents are a reminder to us all what an important part this club plays in the town – the fear of it leaving has created anxiety. It just goes to show what this club means to its local residents.’
The club are focussed on securing the clubs short term and long term future. If you’d like to play your part in shaping our future, become a club member here
Written by David M Marsh. Dec 2020.