New stadium should go ahead but doubts over target date

Brian Holmes
Brian Holmes

PLANS for Hucknall Town’s new stadium should NOT be disturbed by the club’s financial crisis.

But president Brian Holmes (pictured) has warned that the local economy must improve if it is to be built on time.

After a long saga, Town finally won planning permission from Ashfield District Council last August for the 3,000-capacity ground, to be located on land off Aerial Way, virtually opposite the club’s current headquarters at Watnall Road.

Fans have been worried that the revelations about Town owing up to £75,000 in VAT could put the new stadium in jeopardy.

But with the club now confident of raising the money required to pay off the debt, thanks to a loan from the current ground-owners, Welbeck Estates, and a shares scheme, they see no reason why the plans cannot go ahead.

Nevertheless Holmes warns that the green light revolves around the market value of the Watnall Road ground, which Welbeck Estates want to sell for housing development and the building of office-based units.

Until that sale happens, the money will not be there to finance the new stadium. And it is looking increasingly unlikely that the original target-date of the start of the 2012/13 season will be met.

“At the start of this whole saga, the value of the land on which the current ground sits was £8 million,” disclosed Holmes.

“Now the current bids are approaching only £4 million. I suspect that things may only get moving if that price goes up to £6 million.”

The whole scheme has also been delayed by the need to rubberstamp a legally-binding Section 106 agreement, which was entered into by the football club and Welbeck Estates with Ashfield Council as part of gaining full planning permission. This agreement covers the aspects of the plan that will benefit the Hucknall community as a whole. Town appointed a special consultant to iron out these details.