St Albans Saints’ fans demand answers from council

PUBLISHED: 05:52 02 March 2015

St Albans FC owners John McGowan and Lawrence Levy

St Albans FC owners John McGowan and Lawrence Levy

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Hundreds of fans of St Albans City Football Club have signed a petition calling for a resolution over the future, and likely location, of the Saints’ base.

The online petition was initiated following an article in last week’s Herts Advertiser quoting the bosses of the cash-strapped club, John McGowan and Lawrence Levy, admitting there was “no light at the end of the tunnel” after ploughing £450,000 into the Saints since taking control four years ago.

And John has threatened to walk away should a push to build a new stadium away from its current dilapidated, historic base at Clarence Park fails.

The petition, launched by Jack Kearney and signed by around 600 fans, calls upon St Albans district council executive leader Cllr Julian Daly to explain whether Clarence Park “can ever be built on or developed, and what the council is doing to help the football club move forward, and to move away from Clarence Park.

“We ask that the council work with the football club to build a stadium with facilities more fitting of the high standards of the city we live in and we can all be proud of.

“We feel this situation has dragged on for too long unresolved - no-one wants a future where there is no football club in the city to support which is a real possibility if this is not addressed.”

Cllr Daly said that the sustainability of the club had long been an issue, with former owners of the Saints also struggling to break even.

But he questioned hopes to build a new stadium, saying, “I doubt there is public support to build hundreds of houses to fund a new stadium in the Green Belt.”

Cllr Robert Donald, chairman of the city neighbourhoods committee, said the club paid just £1 annually to rent the facilities at the park – and must pay for maintenance of the ground.

When asked who was responsible for upgrading the facilities, which are covered by a restrictive historic covenant, Cllr Donald replied: “Is it worth doing it up if in fact the club’s aspirations are bigger than can be contained in Clarence Park?”

He and the council’s leisure portfolio holder Cllr Annie Brewster plan to hold a meeting with Mr Levy and Mr McGowan to discuss future plans.

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