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Thatcham Town FC and Thatcham Town Council co-operating on new pitch plans

Club and town council looking to provide facility that the town needs

John Herring

John Herring

john.herring@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886633

Thatcham's new chairman is relishing the challenge

THATCHAM Town Football Club has supporters for its plans for an artificial pitch to be used for training and community activities. 

Thatcham town councillors supported the club’s proposal for a six-a-side pitch near its Stacatruc Stadium off Crookham Hill.

But councillors offered to form a partnership with the club to deliver a larger pitch that was required by the club and community. 

Speaking at a meeting on Monday, May 4, club chairman Dave Melin (pictured) said the club had looked to install an 8x8 (eight-a-side) 3G pitch for various options, including training facilities, pitch hire and community activities.

He said: ”We are looking at expanding the use of the club and getting more people involved and engaged.

“We were top of the league when the league was expunged and we are looking forward to next season, whenever that happens, to get to those heights again and move on and develop.”

Mr Melin said the pitch they desired would have cost around £400,000 and the club had adapted the plans to a 6x6 (six-a-side).

It has raised  £31,670, leaving £87,436.75 to be raised of its £119,107 target. 

Mr Melin said: “We believed we could achieve that and deliver that towards the end of this year.

“Obviously that changed and we will have to review that and the timescales once we get there.

“Due to the small size of the pitch, it’s not something that the local Football Association [FA] or the national FA hand out grants for.”

Former club chairman Eric Bailey had previously said the FA was “looking to place their money with Newbury”.

The club has also applied for funding from Veolia, but a decision has been postponed during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The club’s proposal follows West Berkshire Council publishing its playing pitch strategy, which  guides the investment, development and improvement of playing pitches over the next 10 years.

The document said there was a significant deficit in football provision across the district.

It also found there was a deficit of seven full-sized 3G artificial grass pitches, with only one pitch available to the community.

Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East) asked what the FA would fund. 

He said: “I would like to see if it’s possible to explore a partnership approach to deliver what you desire and what the town desires.

“Could we work with West Berkshire Council and the FA and come up with something that really delivers that asset you need and what the town needs as well?”

Mr Melin said a partnership would be “the perfect outcome”. 

He said the minimum size pitch that the FA or Sport England would fund is a 7x7 (seven-a-side).

“There are lots of stipulations around that,” he said. 

“There are six registered contractors you have to use that are authorised by the FA and it has to be a certain quality and calibre.

“While there are many artificial surfaces, not many are to that standard.

“Working in partnership would be fantastic and realise everything we want to do and realise the area’s needs.” 

Mr Dillon said the town council would set up meetings with West Berkshire Council and look at what community infrastructure levy funds were available “because it will have a benefit not just to Thatcham, but children from Bucklebury and Brimpton would use that facility as well”.

Paul Field (Green, Thatcham Central) added: “I’m fully behind this – to back something bigger and better because it’s clearly a valuable community asset.”

He asked what capacity was at the club and Mr Melin said there would be limited time slots available without the additional pitch.

“The moment we publicised we were looking to do this we had lots of sports clubs and six-a-side teams contact us looking to book slots,” he said.

“I think that highlights the lack of availability that is currently out there.”

The application can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3bBdZpI 

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