Co-owner discusses his vision at fans' forum
PUBLISHED: 09:51 06 March 2015
St Albans City’s co-owner discussed his vision for the future of the club at an open and frank fans’ forum last week.
In front of a fans and district councillors, Lawrence Levy outlined his plans for a stadium with the supporting facilities that can propel the St Albans City into the Football League.
As a lifetime vice-president of Rennie Grove Hospice Care and avid supporter of youth sport in the city, Levy’s plans go far beyond the football club. His view for the club supports more tourism for the city as well as more sports venues and facilities for children, and not just for football.
All of this has one caveat: the new stadium has to come first and with it comes banqueting and conference facilities as well as 3G pitches which will probably need funding by ways of residential development because, as it stands, the club isn’t sustainable at its current location at Clarence Park.
Levy and co-owner John McGowan launched the Save our Saints campaign with the aim of engaging the council and wider community about the ongoing issues at the club. McGowan said ‘there was no light at the end of the tunnel’ in regards to making the club self-sustainable and that needs to change if he and Levy are to continue to fund it.
Levy revealed that they have invested nearly £500,000 into the club in the last four years. Without a sign from the council that the stadium is forthcoming, the co-owners are prepared to walk away.
He pointed out that their departure would have far reaching consequences beyond St Albans City Football Club, which would undoubtedly tumble out of the Conference South. The considerable funding the club (with its partner St Albans City Youth FC) receives from the Football Conference, which is currently financing and promoting children’s sports, would disappear, as would the rest of its community and education initiatives.
The football club is more than just 90 minutes on a Saturday, he stressed. That was the message he wanted to portray and all the 60 or so fans at the forum left supporting his vision.
Sandy Walkington, Liberal Democrat candidate for St Albans and county councillor, and Annie Brewster, sports, leisure and heritage portfolio holder, were the two councillors at the meeting and both backed the plans. Former councillor Melvyn Teare also attended and threw his support behind the proposal.
It’s now up to Levy, along with the support of the fans and the councillors who were present, to convince the rest of the council and the wider community the value of his vision. If this is not possible he and McGowan will walk, and with them will go the future of the football club and associated benefits the club brings to the community.