One of the big challenges in recent months has the issue of the home ground at Stonebridge Road. Currently leased for the next 16 years, it’s not really the most attractive sporting venue in the world, though the pitch is immaculate, maintained by the rapping groundsman, Peter Norton. The Club were looking at a new stadium before MyFootballClub took over, and discussions have continued since then.
These seemed to fall through in August when the local councils (Kent County and Gravesham Borough) and said they would not support a community stadium on the old A2 site. Following this blow, the freehold was put up for sale by the owners, Land Security, who also gave the club the opportunity to make an offer before the 21st Sept auction. A group of MyFC members, directors and other supporters of the club got together to raise the funds – not an insubstantial amount, somewhere between £400-600,000.
And that was going reasonably well until Gravesham Borough Council stepped in on the 17th September and bought the ground. This has changed the game again, as there are now two options:
1) Continue to raise the funds in order to buy the ground from the Council
2) Take up the offer of long-term, peppercorn rent
Learning to Juggle
Both have their good and bad points, but I feel that the Society Board members should not be pushing one argument over another, which has happened before and cause a lot of division. Instead they should be monitoring the debate, providing information where needed and pushing things through at the club on behalf of members. Despite the usual circular and emotive debate, thankfully both sides have been allowed to discuss the options.
As an organisation, we’re still struggling to deal with more than one item at a time, a shame as important issues are neglected whilst everyone’s energy is focused on the Big News. Again, this is something that I was hoping for from the new Board – to each take ownership of different areas and foster groups of members to deal with the issues and come back to the Society.
Good news in this regard is that the Operator is planning a revamp to the website which should make this more of a reality. This should also improve communications, allowing casual members to easily see what’s going on and feel involved. This is essential for maintaining and growing membership beyond the hardcore MyFootballClub fans and local Ebbsfleet fans.
Incidentally, funds for the ground purchase are still being raised by the new company, MyFootballGround. Going on what we’ve done before and the way the forum discussion’s been going, if the full amount isn’t reached MyFG will probably continue and become the company that develops the stadium. All quite exciting, whatever the outcome!
If you’re interested you can email 0800 334 5605 or e-mail Trustboard@myfootballclub.co.uk