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Dragons’ Double Disaster! Fresh stadium blows for Basingstoke Town

THE future of Basingstoke Town seems anything but certain with their outgoing chairman saying the club’s situation is “very sad indeed” following a fresh double stadium blow.

The Southern Premier Dragons are certain to leave the Camrose and previously identified two sites to build a new ground.

But in a lengthy statement, the club confirmed both options have been ruled out because of a lack of council support.

Chairman Rafi Razzak is to step aside this summer because of the issues with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.

The club will miss him after his funding for a number of seasons – and their future is up in the air now he is to stand down.

Without him, they must leave the Camrose. Shy of an investor coming on board, it is no longer ‘economically or practicably feasible’ to remain at their historic home.

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

Razzak added: “We are very disappointed with the lack of tangible help from the council, 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 the Camrose – which could help Basingstoke Town 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.”

Compromise

He added: “This was effectively Plan A – 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 the Camrose, ie: 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 the Camrose. This would constitute a lower value redevelopment scheme and would result in substantially diminished capital available to re-site us.

“As a result we 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.

“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.”

Worried Supporters Club chairman Martin French commented: “What is quite clear is the fact that over the past 10-20 years, the club has been poorly managed, which the owner has ultimate responsibility for.

“Unfortunately, Mr Razzak now wants the money he has loaned the club over the period of his ownership, which is rare.

“So what would the fans like to see? It is quite clear. Mr Razzak, who is a very wealthy man, could as a goodwill gesture, handover the freehold to the Supporters Trust, wipe off the debt and allow us, the fans and the local community, to work with the local council, to improve facilities at the current Camrose ground and allow us to sustain the club financially going forward.”

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