NEWBURY Football Club has accused West Berkshire Council of conducting secret talks with its rivals to push through an unpopular ground share deal.
The bombshell came in the form of a letter to the club, personally signed by the council’s chief executive Nick Carter.
In it, Mr Carter states: “[Council] officers have recently met with Thatcham Town Football Club to reconfirm that the ground share option is still available.”
It urges Newbury FC to give a firm commitment to this by the autumn and concludes: “I hope this clarifies the position.”
But furious Newbury FC chairman, Keith Moss, said that his club had been snubbed in the negotiations, adding: “We have never been told of any such meeting – it’s all being done without us being involved at all.
“This would be like telling Manchester City to go and play at Manchester United.”
Newbury FC is vehemently opposed to a ground share with Thatcham Town FC and believes the council is trying to strong arm it into one.
West Berkshire Council had not formally responded as this newspaper went to press.
Thatcham Town FC chairman, Eric Bailey, confirmed he had been approached by the council recently, but added: “No deals have been done.
“We simply said we’re still prepared to sit down and talk with Newbury FC if that’s what they want. Mr Moss, however, seems to think we’re bitter rivals, so perhaps it wouldn’t work.
“We did put a time limit on it because this has been going on and on.”
The row is the latest twist in a saga that began in 2015 when the council announced it wanted to develop the Faraday Road site.
Mr Carter initially said he did not want the club to close without a viable alternative site being provided. But weeks later the council said it did not consider itself “duty bound” to do so.
For the full contents of Mr Carter’s letter, see the back page of this week's Newbury Weekly News.