Non-league club’s plea to save home ground threatened by housing

The club is in the ninth tier - eight divisions below the Premier League
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A North Somerset football club which could see a housing development built on their grounds have pleaded with the council not to ‘send in the bulldozers’.

The home ground of Nailsea and Tickenham FC, who achieved promotion to the Western League Division One at the end of the last season, is one of twelve council-owned sites being considered for development by North Somerset Council. The council believe that part of a 450-home development could be built on the football ground.

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Nailsea and Tickenam FC agreed a 21-year lease on their Fryth Way grounds with the council in 2018. As part of the agreement, the council would have to relocate the club to another ground in Nailsea with just as good facilities if they wanted to sell the land for development.

Addressing a meeting of the council last week, club trustee and finance director John Murray MBE said: “I’d like to summarise by asking if it really makes economic sense to send in the bulldozers to demolish all that we have built up over the past three years, only to have to replicate this at significant expense at an alternative site in Nailsea.”

Over £250,000 has been invested into the Fryth Way ground in by the club the last three years, which has funded a 108-seat covered stand, a clubhouse with a kitchen and licensed bar, and LED floodlights. The team played their first game beneath the floodlights at the end of September, in which they beat Cheddar FC 5-0.

The club currently has two senior teams and it is planning to start U18 and junior teams. Mr Murray said: “We are not just a football club but a community asset.”

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He added: “We have an annual music event primarily aimed at families and children, as well as adults and we also have a number of charity events throughout the year. For example, earlier this month we hosted a charity football match between ex-Bristol City players and a local side which raised over £5,000 for a seven year old lad who unfortunately has brain cancer.”

Mark Canniford, the council’s executive member for placemaking and economy said: “If the council wanted to develop that land, the facilities that would be provided instead would be equivalent or better and in close proximity to the existing site so there is no means of taking it out of Nailsea.”

Fryth Way is the home of Nailsea and Tickenham FCFryth Way is the home of Nailsea and Tickenham FC
Fryth Way is the home of Nailsea and Tickenham FC

He added that further consultations would be had before anything happened but other councillors questioned why the football club had been included in the sites considered for development at all.

Roz Willis, councillor for Weston-Super-Mare Kewstoke, said: “I know it has been said that a like-minded site would be found, but with the amount of money that the club have invested themselves and the amount of work that’s been done there, who’s going to pay this? They’ve spent £250,000. Plus relocation and all the other bits, where’s that going to come from?”

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Other council-owned sites also being considered for development include the old Nailsea library building and the former school field in Downside, Portishead. The council voted to continue consultations with local residents around sites which had generated opposition.

Nailsea and Tickenham FC are currently second in the Western League Division One, which is eight levels below the Premier League.

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