HORSHAM Football Club today confirmed they are on the brink of sealing a deal to build a new home.
The club has agreed to buy a plot of land to the south of Horsham, thought to be in the Hop Oast area.
To finance the construction of a new ground, the Hornets have held discussions about redeveloping a section of land at the Holbrook Club - the sports and social facility which Horsham FC purchased in 2007.
Chief executive John Lines said: “I know the Board have been criticised in some quarters for the lack of information relating to our proposed new ground, but it must be understood confidentiality agreements in our discussions have had to be observed. I can however now reveal, in the past few days we have reached an agreement in principle for the purchase of a suitable plot of land to the south of Horsham which at this stage looks suitable for our new football ground and necessary training facilities.
“We cannot give specific details revealing the location at this point in time. However the club believes that it has finally agreed the framework for a deal which should meet both the club’s own needs and satisfies local planning criteria. It has not simply been a case of buying a plot and building our ground. This has been a complex and multi-faceted challenge, fully intended to satisfy the interests on numerous Stakeholders.
“In order to provide the funding for the completion of the new ground we have been in consultation with Horsham District Council over the redevelopment of a section of the Holbrook land to provide a number of new homes. HDC’s Planning Officers have provided advice about the issues to be addressed in a planning application for the housing scheme and the new ground. Whilst there is still much work to do, there is a will and a desire by all concerned now to achieve the WIN WIN WIN goal.
“A core part of this twin site proposal is a viable plan for the long term continuation of The Holbrook Club, something they have been without since HFC purchased the North heath Lane site from RSA in 2007. We have offered the Holbrook Club a lease in excess of 21 years for the balance of the site which would give them secure tenure and should enable improvements to be carried out with the aid of Grants available to them and this in turn will see the Holbrook Club thrive.
“Senior Members and Officers of the Council have supported our efforts to find a new home since the failure of the application to relocate to Holbrook. Whilst the project is still subject to planning the prospects are very encouraging.”
Commenting on financing for the scheme, chairman Kevin Borrett added: “One hurdle which needs to be overcome is in the gift of RSA. Our contract for the purchase of the Holbrook Club allows RSA to take 50% of any profit achieved from the disposal of The Holbrook Club within 5 years of our purchase. If any amount had to be paid to the RSA then we could not afford to build the new ground and sustain the offer made to The Holbrook Club rendering the scheme unviable.FCHFC We have therefore made a request to RSA to waive this requirement, recognising the benefit this would be to many current and former employees. Should they not agree, then we will have to wait until March next year before any formal agreements are signed.
“This will not necessarily delay the Planning Applications, but could have an impact upon overall timing and would incur additional costs. Getting to our new ground, which we hope will be a flagship facility for the Horsham District is absolute priority, but not at the expense of patience and prudence. This really is the time for our incredible supporters, those actively involved with all the club youth and senior teams, who give their time voluntarily and the town and surrounding villages with club ties, to get behind us and push on to a new and bright future for Horsham Football Club.”