Save our Saints campaign gaining momentum
PUBLISHED: 17:00 26 March 2015 | UPDATED: 15:05 01 April 2015
The Save our Saints campaign is building up a head of steam as St Albans City supporters try to rescue the club from an uncertain future.
Last month the club’s owners, Lawrence Levy and John McGowan, threaten to walk away if their plans for a new stadium fail to materialise. It prompted a petition from fans to gain support for the club.
At the time of going to press, it had been signed by over 750 people, enough to force St Albans District Council to discuss the club’s issues at a full council meeting. The petition has not yet been handed to the council.
The club is currently based at Clarence Park, but, with the team playing in the Conference South, work is needed to improve facilities and increase revenue streams so St Albans City can field a competitive side. Clarence Park is also covered by a restrictive covenant, which doesn’t allow the club operate on non-match days.
A spokesman for the campaign, Michael Hill, said: “To amend or change the covenant would be time consuming and costly. And the local pressure groups are vociferous in their opposition so it would be a huge challenge.
“The club is only capable of bringing in money on match days, which isn’t enough. Other clubs in our league have private parties, which we can’t do, and other revenues schemes. There is increasing acceptance that that future of the club is away from Clarence Park.
“Our hearts are at Clarence Park but people are realising that it is impractical if we want to be sustainable.”
The aim for the campaign is to raise awareness of the club and the work it does within the community. Under Levy’s direction, the club has been active at going into schools and promoting healthy living, and it has also put the £20,000 it receives from the Football Conference into youth sports.
If St Albans City are relegated, which will almost certainly happen if the owners walked out, that money would disappear.
“I don’t think people realise all the good work the club does,” added Hill. “Some children in St Albans are as aware of John Frendo and James Comley as they are with Premier League footballers. And it’s great for them to get up close to football.”
The plans for a new 5,000 seat stadium are optimistic – the club currently pulls in between 500 and 600 fans, although as many as 3,500 have piled into the ground for marquee games in recent season – but Hill sees it differently.
“Why is a 5,000 seater stadium beyond St Albans? This is a thriving city. Is there anything wrong with us having a vision to go alongside the other aims of St Albans? We already know too many families visit but don’t return because of the aging facilities at Clarence Park. Just think about what the club does now and what it could do if it was more successful.”