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Fans left saddened with non league stadium to be demolished four years after club was kicked out

Fans have been left saddened with a non league stadium set to be demolished four years after club Basingstoke Town was kicked out.

Basingstoke Gazette detail that it was in 2019 that Basingstoke were told to find somewhere else to play home matches, having been kicked out by Rafi Razzak, the former owner of Basingstoke Town, and his company Basron, before then revealing that they would be selling The Camrose in October this year.

In 2022, permission was granted to have 85 dwellings and a care home consisting of 70 bedrooms on the site of the soon to be demolished stadium, with a government inspector approving appeals from Rafi Razzak’s appeals.

In 2021, the site had been designated as an asset of community value, giving community interest groups an chance to bid for the land should it come up for sale.

In October 2023, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council were informed of Basron’s plans to sell the stadium.

There had been a six week period where community interest groups had the option to be a potential bidder, only for the borough council to say that the December 12th deadline has now passed and that ‘no expressions of interest were received’.

This now means that, leaving Rafi Razzak and his company Basron can sell.

Cllr Vaux has since asked what the council are doing on Basingstoke Town’s business plan for a new stadium and 30-per cent of the Camrose site.

In response, Cllr Morrow said: “I won’t cover the Camrose question because that covers different areas and it’s not just sports.

“As for the plan for Basingstoke Town FC, we’ve held talks with the club and those talks will continue. And we have a priority to deliver the aquadrome at the leisure site. At this stage, the business plan submitted to us requires significant investment. We’re still in talks with the club and developers. We want to keep that communication open.”

Basron have submitted plans to demolish the stadium and all its infrastructure, not before April 2024, with Basron’s plans set to go forward.

David Graham, who was a spokesperson for the ‘Save the Camrose’ campaign, wasn’t surprised at no one expressing interest and adds: “It has been declared an asset of community value, as opposed to being not needed or not fit for purpose, as was stated in the planning appeal, and we should not be in the position of needing someone to come forward and purchase it. Under BDBC and Sport England policy, if it is to be developed, the owners of the land i.e Basron (71 per cent) and BDBC (29 per cent) should be responsible for equal or better replacement, i.e in the case of The Camrose, at least a step 2 stadium capable of upgrade to step 1.”

Basingstoke Town said in a statement late November 2023: “In January 2021, The Camrose was approved by Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council to be listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) and to this day is still listed as such.

“As Basingstoke Town Community FC are the original applicants of the ACV submitted in 2020, we have been contacted by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council who advise that they have received a notification on 31 October 2023 of the land owner Basron’s intention to sell The Camrose Football Stadium.

“As a registered Asset of Community Value, the intention to sell the asset evokes a 6-week interim moratorium period. This gives community interest groups an opportunity to confirm whether they wish to make a written request to be treated as a potential bidder. If no requests are received during this period, the owner is free to sell their asset at the end of the 6 weeks.

“If a community interest group does make a request during this interim period, then the full 6-month moratorium will operate (until April 2024). This provides an opportunity for a community interest group to prepare a business plan and secure appropriate finance.

“During this moratorium period the owner may continue to market and negotiate sales but may not exchange contracts (or enter into a binding contract to do so later), unless this is to a community interest group.

“We have been advised further to note, however, that the owner is under no obligation to accept a bid from a community group.

“We have no further comment to make on this matter whilst stadia conversations are on-going between Basingstoke Town Community FC and Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council.”

The ground, with a capacity of 6,000, saw a record attendance of 5,085 set in 1997 for an FA Cup first round match against Wycombe Wanderers.

During the 2014/15 campaign, it was known as the Soccer AM Stadium due to a sponsorship deal with the Sky Sports show, before becoming the Ark Cancer Charity Stadium for the 2016–17 season.

But it was in 2019 that club was forced to relocate to Winchester City’s City Ground before returning to Basingstoke, at the upgraded FA Winklebury Sports Complex in the Winklebury area of the town in October 2020.

In October 2023, Basingstoke Town revealed a “fully-costed” business plan to build a new football stadium at the Leisure Park.

The club said at the time: Basingstoke Town Community FC announce new community stadium plans.

Working with club partners since our last public update in February (https://btfc.co.uk/updates/stadium-plans) Basingstoke Town Community FC have spent a lot of time and effort developing a fully-costed business plan for a new community stadium at Basingstoke Leisure Park and are urging relevant parties to bring the plans to reality.

The club have held initial talks with the new leaders at Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council over recent weeks and presented them with our progress and our business plan which calls on utilising section 106 funds from the loss of The Camrose and other available grants and funding sources.

The club are now publicly calling on Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and any potential investors/partners to work with the club to progress this project to the next level to ensure the club has a home of it’s own once again; a like-for-like stadium to mitigate the loss of The Camrose, a community facility that will meet the aspirations of the club.

Chairman Jack Miller added “The on-going upgrade works to Winklebury Football Complex will allow our first team to play matches at our current level and maintain our short-term aspirations but without further significant investment to Hampshire FA’s facility, we are unable to progress further there.”

The new plans include a purpose-built community stadium with classrooms for our full-time education football Academy, a clubhouse and a 3G pitch for teams across the club to be able to use to progress and to be able to continue our own year-on-year growth whilst also having facilities that can be offered to other users within the local community.

Miller continued “We will continue talks with relevant parties to ensure the club is doing everything it can to bring our plans to fruition but felt it was important at this stage that our aspirations are again made known to a wider audience.”

“As one of the highest populated towns in the country without a football league team, the potential at our club is there and the recent growth across the club as a whole has been clear to see but in order to take the club to the next level, we need a home of our own and for that we need support and backing.”

BTCFC would like to thank Frank Whittle Partnership (FWP), Sports Management Solutions and the Football Supporters Association (FSA) for their guidance and assistance throughout this process to date and also to Infinite Images for their work on the visuals (illustrative purposes only).

The club is holding a Community Club Members Zoom meeting on Wednesday 18th October to discuss these plans in more depth and answer any questions from members.

To sign up to become a Community Club member, click here

If you’re interested in working with the club on progressing these plans further or for any potential investment enquiries, please contact club@btfc.co.uk

As mentioned, fans have been left saddened with the non league stadium to be demolished four years after the club was kicked out…

@luckytw1tter: My dad took me to my first ever football match sitting in that stand in the photo. Will never forget it and the matches I went to afterwards back in the late 80s early 90s. To think it could be all knocked down and turned into flats and houses is a real shame.

@ainsburymike: @BasingstokeGov Now is the time to wrong a right & give us our ground back! The opportunity is there, Let’s not mess it up again 👊🏻

@0104jd: Remember the days of climbing over the wall just off Mansfield Road to get into the stadium as a kid when we were in the National League South. Fun times watching us play at this ground. Could hear the fans shouting from my house, great atmosphere.

Sean-David Lewis: Sadly, about time. It’s an eye saw & everyone needs to move on

Calvin Pomfret: Huge bit of the town’s history lost, because some melt wants to make money on additional homes… like we need more of those in Basingstoke when there’s sod all to do here already 🤦🏽‍♂️

Gordon Craggs: If ever there is an example of people not caring about the history, dignity or pride of a town then this is it. A town of our size and history should expect a football team with the adequet facilities. A ground we as a town can cherish and be proud of. I watched Basingstoke many times here, and even had the honour of playing on that pitch and its soul destroying how the people of Basingstoke have been treated. Even if you are not a football fan, this is still a symbol of this town.
Someday I hope our team are high up in the football leagues and playing in a decent stadium we can all be proud of, and this whole saga will be just a blip in history. We deserve better.

Andrew Demuccio: MORE HOUSES grrrrrrrrr

Clive Osgood: Shocked to see this, fond memories of this old ground. Money money money

Ray Welch: A perfect place for a sports facility. I think Basingstoke has had its fill of new housing now.

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