Gloucester City ground plans to be scaled back - Nigel Hughes
A 'REDUCED scope' development at Meadow Park could offer Gloucester City hope of a return home from their six-year flood-enforced exile, writes James Young.
As revealed in The Citizen on Tuesday, club owner Eamonn McGurk said that the club were going to 'reconsider' the ambitions plans for a £5million community stadium at their flood-hit home.
Since then, meetings have been held between the club and Gloucester City Council, while a meeting of the club's executive on Wednesday night tried to plot a forward course.
Chairman Nigel Hughes was at that meeting and said that while the club was still seeking a return to Meadow Park, the 'scope' of the development would be reduced.
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Hughes said: "As a consequence of that meeting, we took the decision that the application in its current form is only going to be a long drawn-out affair but it will also be a continual financial drain on the club with no end in sight.
"The view now is that we are going to reassess the scope of the project.
"In other words we need to look at what the Club needs to do in order to address our issues and not the wider ones which impact on the businesses around."
That change would most likely mean that the commercial land, included as part of the original application is likely to be taken out of the new proposals.
Hughes said "We would still need to look at what can be done to alleviate any flooding so we can get something back on the existing footprint of the stadium.
"The plan that we put forward was to build a stadium and also build flood protection for that whole area. The cost of which would have been in the region of £5million.
"Clearly there was the intention to use the land around the stadium for business purposes. However, there have continued to be issues which have dragged this process out for almost five years.
"We are now looking to see if we can scale it back because we still need to fund a football stadium.
"Eamonn McGurk is still committed to bringing the Football Club back to Gloucester.
"He was very, very clear in stating that to us on Wednesday night, but clearly, with the money he has spent already, he can't continue to fund both the club and the planning application.
"He has spent somewhere in the region of £1million on the football club over the past 16 years, and around £200,000 on this existing planning application.
"What we can't do is continue to spend money with no guarantee of getting anywhere.
"So clearly what we are going to do is focus on the areas where we can try and go forward.
"There is already a stadium at Meadow Park so let's see what we can do sooner rather than never. "
Also at the meeting were representatives from the club's Supporters Trust, who welcomed the latest developments.
Sharing the desire to return home to Gloucester, Trust chairman Lee Mill said that he hoped the Trust and the club's owners could work closely together to make that happen.
"The owners commitment to building a stadium for use by the club has been reaffirmed and The Trust is pleased that there has been an agreement to consult and involve The Trust in its design and layout during the planning stages," Mills said.
"We were satisfied with the direction of the owners plans in relation to bringing the club back to playing in the city of Gloucester as soon as possible and how it intends to deliver those plans.
"Gloucester City Supporters Trust recognise the significant amount of money put into the club by its owners over the past 16 years.
"The Trust will continue to support the owners so long as communication is maintained and its views are taken on board.
"We now call upon Gloucester City Council and local politicians to deliver on its promises to help the club get back to the city and work with the football club and the owners to achieve this."