Crawley Town operations director has given an update on the training ground situation following a petition and discussions on social media.
Kelly Derham released the statement today following days of chat on social media from fans and investor Paul John Hayward.
Hayward said he was proud to be a Reds fans after they way supporters mobilised to petition for the club to get a new training ground. A campaign was created on the website 38degrees.org.uk by Fraser Sheridan to allow Crawley Town to use the land at Bewbush, RH11 8WB, as their training ground facilities.
The land has interest from two other parties and fans, backed by investor Paul John Hayward, want Crawley Bprough Council to know how much the club needs this.
Hayward added: “ I just wanted to say to everyone. How much I appreciate you all. Within 24 hours. Starting on a Friday when everyone is busy. 100’s & 100’s of Crawley fans reacted to a Tweet. WOW! You voted, You Petitioned, You mailed councilors. I’m so proud to be one of you!”
Following this Derham released this statement: "I am aware that there has been lots of discussion on social media regarding the possibility of the club obtaining land to build its own training facility in the town, so I’d like to update our supporters on what is happening.
"As you know, the club previously trained at Breezehurst Drive, Bewbush between 2011-12. At the time the council were unable to let us fence off and make the pitches more secure so we made arrangements elsewhere. It was a real disappointment at the time because the changing facilities and building perfectly fitted our needs.
"Since then we have had several training bases in Crawley and the surrounding area. For this season we have agreed a new site to train and will be announcing details in the next week or so once contracts have been signed.
"In April, we were made aware by one of our supporters that a return to Bewbush might be an option. The club had discussions with our former owner Paul Hayward, who expressed his willingness to fund the building project and obtain a long-term lease. We have had specialists in to provide cost estimates to build one or two 3G pitches and one or two stadium-standard grass pitches on site, which runs alongside the A264.
"We would offer one of the 3G pitches for external hire to create a revenue stream. The existing building would only need minor improvements to be fit for purpose. We have had very productive discussions with Crawley Wasps Ladies FC, whom we would envisage using the facilities for both playing and training at Bewbush as part of the strengthening relationship between our two clubs. We are really excited about the potential for this project. Having our own training ground can only help our ambitions to progress in the EFL.
"Crawley Borough Council have updated us this week to say we are one of three parties interested in the Bewbush site. It’s a complex issue but discussions are on-going, and we will update everyone when there is more news. Of course, we would like things to be resolved quickly but we have to be patient.
"We are aware that an online petition has started supporting our plans for a new training ground and has already attracted 500 signatures, including our Head Coach Gabriele Cioffi. We’re grateful to every Crawley Town supporter for getting behind our proposals and I can assure everyone that we are working hard with Crawley Borough Council to bring our plans to fruition.
"It’s pivotal for the club to have a permanent training ground. The initial discussions have proven that it will not only be a valuable asset for the club and the community but one that allows Crawley to have more financial freedom. This is important for our club. Crawley needs everyone with the club at heart to unite and work in unison to achieve a brighter future.
"I’d also like to thank Paul Hayward for his ongoing support. If we can pull this off it will be another amazing result for the club."
A council spokesperson said: “The council has been in discussions with Crawley Town FC regarding their proposal. We understand how much this means to the supporters of the club – as a council we too have supported the club over the years. There are however other parties with interest in the land and as a public authority we have to continue to progress these discussions in the appropriate way .”