Sat, 08 Dec 2018
THATCHAM Town FC are bidding to open a “much-needed” artificial pitch in the town.
But the FA Vase winners are looking for someone to kick-start funding for the scheme, as they are facing competition for money for new facilities from Newbury.
The club are looking to provide a multi-purpose, multi-user sports area that can be used year-round.
The 62mts x 42mts pitch would also allow local youth teams and other groups the chance to play at a local venue.
The Kingfishers added they were in the unenviable position of having available space and planning permission for the £187,775.98 project.
Seeking funding for the project at a Thatcham Town Council meeting last week, club chairman Eric Bailey said it was something the club had been exploring for some time.
He said that the grass training pitch at Waterside Park was over-used and that the new pitch could be completed within eight weeks.
“We believe this is a much-needed facility for the area,” he said.
“We realise the cost is considerable, but we have also lodged some of the application with the Greenham Trust, who seem to be looking at it favourably.”
Councillors heard that the cost had already been reduced by around £30,000 through the club purchasing floodlights.
Project manager Ian Halloway, who worked on a similar scheme as a former director at Basingstoke Town FC, said that artificial pitches had opened the club up to the community.
“You can also use the pitch for things like fetes, all sorts of community uses going on, not just for sports use,” he said.
He added that the new pitch had helped the club provide all-inclusive football.
When asked whether sporting bodies had been approached for funding, Mr Bailey said: “We have approached the Football Foundation.
“We have to go through the Berks and Bucks FA.
“They are saying they are looking to place their money with Newbury.
“They are not very keen to back this project, they are looking to provide something in Newbury.
“My argument is we have the land and facilities and this could be in use in a very short time once we have the money.”
The club are looking to take out a loan of £25,000 towards covering the cost of the project.
“How much do you want from us,” asked Dominic Boeck (Con, Thatcham South and Crookham).
“Obviously you could say all of it, but anything you could give,” Mr Bailey said.
He added that a letter was ready to go out to companies offering space on advertising hoardings in exchange for funding the project.
“If you were able to give us around two-thirds of the money I think we would be able to proceed,” Mr Halloway added.
Councillors heard that the artificial pitch would last about 10 years and then cost around £15,000 to replace.
In response to questions about flooding, Mr Halloway said: “The survey will tell us if we need additional drainage.
“Based on what they know, they haven’t told us we need extra drainage.”
The club’s quest for funding continues, however, as councillors deferred a decision until the new year.
Town clerk Mel Alexander advised councillors: “This is money that the town council has available to use, but I would ask council to remember that we have some large projects of our own, such as the toilets.
“If any of this was used it would impact on our own projects.”
Mike Cole (Lib Dem, Thatcham North) said: “I personally don’t feel comfortable making a decision tonight until I can see what we have coming up and whether we can fund them.”
Mr Boeck said: “I personally think this is the sort of scheme we should be supporting and I’m happy to propose that we do so.”
Sheila Ellison (Con, Thatcham North) added: “I think that anything for the energetic youth, particularly young males, is to be encouraged.”
Visit https://app.thegoodexchange.com/ and search for Thatcham Town FC to donate or contact the club on (01635) 862016.