I READ with dismay the latest saga in the search for a ground for Horsham Football Club (HFC).
How many more mistakes and how much more impact will HFC have before they finally agree what they will do?
Their first mistake was to leave Queen Street with no agreed way forward for the club. I assume this was because they needed cash to survive (despite as I understand it their being given the Queen Street ground on the understanding that it would be returned to recreational support if they were ever to leave!).
They then used the cash to purchase Holbrook Sports Ground without any planning permission for a stadium and, given Holbrook’s position, unlikely to be able to secure that permission anyway.
This has left Holbrook Sports Club itself in a very difficult position as HFC has only provided short term tenancy to Holbrook leaving that sports club with the constant doubt that their facilities may be removed at any time.
I personally have played football at Holbrook for many years and the pitch facilities there provide for four football teams, two rugby teams and a hockey team both on Saturday and Sunday, that is sporting facility for hundreds of Horsham’s youth.
However, it seems that HFC are up to it again and would appear to be moving to a place where a) they do not have planning permission and b) do not have the cash to buy the land without impacting the Holbrook Sports Club. Well done RSA for having a contract with HFC which penalises HFC if they seek to make profit from sale of recreational ground for building purposes (again!!).
If HFC does get permission to build on the Holbrook Sports ground, two pitches would be lost which would halve the number of people able to play sport outside at a stroke. Why, I ask, does HFC have to constantly impact others in their quest for a new ground?
Being an ex-footballer myself I want to see ALL clubs survive, too many have been lost over the years and this latest move could spell the end of Holbrook FC let alone the other youth teams that also use the pitches there.
Surely there must be a solution if Horsham District Council and HFC really want this to happen. If Hop Oast park and ride is losing money, then why doesn’t HDC let HFC have the ground (with planning permission!) rent free or maybe a peppercorn rent, freeing Horsham council from having to maintain the area.
Also, if HFC is so important to the Horsham community then HFC should be able to seek (and gain) sponsorship and or building work from local business to build a stadium for their use.
Finally if they need cash to keep going then additional sponsorship and a long lease for Holbrook Sports Club at reasonable rent would provide a regular income.
This provides HFC with ground and facilities and would also leave Holbrook Sport Club (one of the most comprehensive sports clubs in the area) intact and able to develop as well. Now that is a Win Win!
Forest Close, Mannings Heath