Basingstoke In Crisis After Another New Ground Blow

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Basingstoke Town’s future today seems unclear after the club released a lengthy statement.

Officials say spiralling costs meaning it is no longer ‘economically or practicably feasible’ to remain at their historic Camrose home.

Chairman Rafi Razzak cannot bankroll the Dragons from the end of the season, walking away because of a lack of council support for a new ground.

But tonight’s statement will be a worry to fans as it seems there are no alternative venues for the club to build their own home on.

“After reviewing several sites, Basingstoke Town had concentrated on just two options, but we can now confirm that neither option is possible,” they said.

Razzak added: “This was effectively Plan A – ‘Lite’, a smaller capacity ground than proposed for Old Oak Common, but requiring millions of pounds for the new build. The only way we could deliver this was via approval of a retail development for Camrose, i.e. a high value land redevelopment.

“It is clear from our informal discussions with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, that they would probably favour a housing proposal for Camrose. This would constitute a lower value redevelopment scheme and would result in substantially diminished capital available to re-site BTFC.”

“As a result BTFC looked at redeveloping the Winklebury football site, currently occupied by Hampshire Football Association. With previous football activity at the site and space, in our view, to accommodate both Hampshire FA and BTFC, this seemed like an ideal compromise. This would be an enhancement of an existing football facility and so would require considerably less expenditure than developing from scratch on a green field site.

“Hampshire FA has been in discussion with BDBC for some time and has recently submitted detailed plans, very similar to those BTFC were working on, for the redevelopment of the Winklebury site for their own needs. Hampshire FA considered leaving the site, but has decided to stay and increase its use of the facilities at Winklebury. They do not want any partners and have developed a business plan that would not allow enough pitch time for BTFC.

“I have no issue with Hampshire FA’s proposals as they are simply trying to utilise the site more effectively and become more self-sufficient. However, I believe it would be unlikely that BDBC would favour a new scheme over a similar proposal from the incumbent tenant with a substantial lease on the site. Effectively we have wasted time and money looking at this scheme.

“We are very disappointed with the lack of tangible help from BDBC, which despite encouraging us to submit proposals over several years, stopped our original plans for a new stadium in the town last year. At numerous meetings since then, they have offered to help, but in reality they have not offered any new sites for us to consider and they seem unlikely to allow a retail development at Camrose – which could help BTFC to build a new stadium within the town.

“We are now left with few options, and anything we do from now will only involve ourselves. It’s very sad indeed.”


About Author

A journalist of over 30 years experience, I was thrilled to have joined the Pitchero team in 2016. Working previously for Trinity Mirror and Wardles covering all levels of the game I am proud to be involved in increasing the profile of Non-League football. An active supporter of Watford, my other passion is cricket with Surrey close to my heart.

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