PROTRACTED plans to find Horsham a long-awaited new home edged a little closer to reality this week.
Royal and Sun Alliance - the town’s largest employer - has agreed to waive a clause on land the Hornets own at the Holbrook Club which will allow them to begin negotiations and planning for their new ground nine months earlier than would otherwise have been possible.
Cash-strapped Horsham need to sell the land they own at the North Heath Lane site to fund their proposed venture at a new location in the South of Horsham, believed to be near Hop Oast.
The club bought the Holbrook land from RSA back in late 2006, but plans to erect a stadium there stalled after they were denied planning permission. They have since been looking elsewhere, but a major stumbling block had been the overage fee - which would have seen 50 per cent of any profit Horsham made from their biggest asset go to RSA if they sold the land within five years.
Now that obstacle has been hurdled Kevin Borrett, chairman of Horsham Football Club said the club could finally realise their dream of a new home in two years time.
He said: “This is no longer a dream this is a reality and we are excited at the prospect of moving to a new home for our team in 2013/14.
“We are extremely grateful to RSA for not only allowing us to work towards our goal but also assisting us in securing the long term future of the club.”
Horsham have not had a home to call their own since they sold their historic Queens Street ground to housing developers in 2008, ground-sharing first with Worthing before moving in with current landlords Horsham YMCA.
The lack of match-day gate revenue has been costly and Horsham’s chief executive John Lines echoed Mr Borrett’s sentiments, saying the news came as a ‘much-needed boost’.
He said: “We are absolutely delighted that RSA has taken this course of action as this will help us to develop our vision for the future by building a ground that the Club and the Town will be proud to be associated with. This will provide a much-needed boost for the team in these challenging times.
The club have been in talks with Horsham District Council over securing their new home where they hope to build the necessary amenities and facilities for the Club to develop not only the First Team but also the expansion of their Junior Football section.
Mark Christer, managing director of RSA said: “We are really proud to support our local football club here in Horsham. It is really important that the Club invests in providing the best for its team now, and in the future. We really look forward to welcoming Horsham Football Club to their new home in the future.”
New Hornets manager Justin Luchford is currently assembling his new-look squad with only expenses to offer prospective players and he was understandably delighted with the news. He said: “I know Kevin and John have been working round the clock on this.
“I haven’t spoken to them in any great detail because I have more pressing matters with the team right now but of course we want a new ground, the whole complexion of the situation changes when you can generate your own finances.”