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Happy new season - then get out!

Council pulls plug on Football Club lease two years early

Malcolm Howe

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Malcolm Howe

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Keith Moss

NEWBURY FC have been given a pre-season message from West Berkshire Council - play up this season then get out of the ground!

The club this week receved notice to terminate its lease of the Faraday Road stadium, despite it having three years still to run.

The ground - at the heart of the proposed London Road INdustria Estate development plan - is subject to a lease that runs until August 2018, but includes a clause giving the landlords the right to give notice of termination after one, two or three years and that has been imposed at the earliest opportunity.

The club has not been ordered to give up possession on June 24 next year, only weeks after the end of this season and with no indication of a replacement facility, despite confirmation by West Berks Council chief executive Nick Carter at a meeting in

January that the council did not intend to close the club without a suitable replacement site being found. He added that the council would face strong opposition from Sport England if it ever tried to do so.

The club has already suffered major financial losses due to the doubt over the ground’s long-term future, and was forced to step down from Hellenic League football at the end of last season to play in the less financially demanding Thames Valley Premier League.

“This gives us less than two months from the end of the season to sell the stand, fititngs, lights and anything else,” said chairman Keith Moss, “because we can’t store them.

“We may even have to be out before the end of the season. All the local leagues, schools and kids use the ground and other leagues come here as well as the Berks and Bucks FA.

“We were always led to believe they would provide us with an alternative ground, but this letter came out of the blue.

“We would have been here more than 10 years,” said Moss, who managed the ground back to ‘health’ after it was left almost derelict.

“I wonder why we bothered.”

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