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Thursday, October 05, 2006

The stadium saga

Supporters' director Ben Hayes has given his views on the subject of Charlton moving its ground in his weekly column in the Bexley Times and as one would expect it is a balanced discussion: Hayes

He rules out the Olympic Stadium as a possibility, stating that it will remain as an athletics stadium with a reduced capacity after 2012, which will disappoint West Ham and Spurs (although Spurs are such a massive, not to say galactic, club that they have been linked with purchasing Wembley). I'm not sure that Ken Livingstone's views on the last word on the matter, particularly as he is unlikely to be mayor in 2012, but let's leave this north of the river stadium out of the equation.

I must admit that I have a strong sentimental attachment to The Valley, where my father started to go in the 1920s and took me for my first game when I was six, but I am not against a discussion of alternatives.

So where could we go? Rick Everitt has stated that it is unlikely that any site within the M25 would get planning permission which rules out the Dome. Sparrows Lane doesn't even merit consideration because of access issues in a residential area and the lack of access to public transport (New Eltham is at least ten minutes walk away). The borough of Bexley has been mentioned so perhaps John Windw's boat could come in with the club building on his equine empire. Or perhaps not.

Ebbsfleet has always looked a possibility with the club's current fascination with Kent (note the involvement in a county wide 'social inclusion' project), expansion in the Thames Gateway and good public transport links (which could be supplemented by a 'Rickshaw in reverse' for a bereft souls in SE7). For those of us come from the north or west of London, the additional journey to Ebbsfleet might be just too much.

Do we need to move at all? Moving from a football ground to a stadium has not done comparable clubs like Derby, Leicester and Southampton much good, although all of them had inadequate or decrepit grounds which were nowhere near as good as the modern Valley.

The financing of any such move would depend on finding a use for The Valley. I am not sure that it would convert as easily to apartments as Highbury and SE7 is not Islington.

The stumbling block appears to be whether we would get planning permission to redevelop the admittedly tired Jimmy Seed Stand. But do we even need to extend the East? Even if we remain in the Premiership, we are not selling out at big fixtures against Arsenal. Of course, it may all be a ploy to put pressure on Greenwich Council, but I doubt whether that will have much effect.

There is nothing wrong in discussion the issue, but from a fan's perspective it would help if we knew what the options for moving were. A little more transparency would be welcome.

2 Comments:

Blogger jamie said...

Wyn,

My suspicion is that this is an attempt by the club to let the council know that if planning permission weren't to be granted there are other options available.

4:23 PM  
Blogger worcestershireleaburn said...

Wyn, Cannot believe this madness, I feel like I am in some parallel universe where we didn't leave the Valley in the first place. This idea needs to be kicked into touch straight away... |I

8:39 PM  

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