There are fears over a 7th tier club’s future after suffering a stadium blow while already playing ‘home’ games 55 miles away from the city.
Paul Durkin, chairman for Cornish Pirates, says his focus turns to preventing the rugby union team and non league football club from going under.
Survival is now his priority with plans for a new stadium – which would have been shared by the two clubs – put on hold with Cornwall Council not putting the project forward for government levelling-up funding.
A smaller project could instead replace the planned 10,000 capacity arena in Truro, but this is a big disappointment with this project being on the cards for years on end yet continues to fail in getting off the ground.
“We’re going to press ahead to try and make sure something happens,” Durkin told BBC Radio Cornwall.
Cornish Pirates own the Southern Premier League South outfit Truro City, with the latter currently playing their home games at Plymouth Parkway’s Bolitho Park ground. This is 55 miles away from the city, after Treyew Road ground was sold to developers last year.
A community interest company (CIC) was set up to boost funds for the Stadium of Cornwall and had applied for £14m, to add to the £11m already raised for the build, report BBC Sport.
“Our priority is to ensure the survival of both Truro City and the Cornish Pirates,” added Durkin.
“[Truro City] are the most urgent. We have a groundsharing deal which lasted for two years and one year is already up.
“The understanding from the council at the time was that a smaller stadium could be built in the period required, as there is also Section 106 funding available to Truro City from the sale of Treyew Road – that was to go towards part of the funding of the stadium.
“Our job now is to try and find private funding, and funding from other organisations, to get a smaller stadium up there and running to enable Truro City to come back as soon as possible.”
‘…very, very disappointed but we are going to press ahead…”
— BBC Sport Cornwall (@CornwallSport) June 29, 2022
The Cornish Pirates, who finished 3rd in the Championship last season, aren’t able to apply for promotion as their stadium at the Mennaye Field in Penzance doesn’t meet the Premiership’s minimum capacity criteria of 10,001.
Any smaller stadium that is built would have to be expandable, but only if funding can allow the Pirates to play in the top division.
Durkin criticed Cornwall Council’s handling of the situation, especially considering that the stadium first got planning permission in July 2015 and Truro City agreed to share the ground in April 2017 after having plans for their own separate venue approved at the same time.
“We had been basically promised, in fact the council made a public statement to say that they supported the stadium project as part of levelling up and asked the CIC to draft the bid with their support.
“While doing that they told us it was withdrawn.”
He added: “There are people’s livelihoods that are risk, these are professional sportsmen, it’s the coaches, it’s everybody there.
“It’s also the aspirations of the Cornish people themselves – I don’t know if you’ve looked at what the reaction has been on social media, but it hasn’t been in favour of the council.”
In a statement, Cornwall Council said: “Due to a change in the levelling up fund [LUF] criteria Cornwall Council has taken the decision not to submit a bid for the Stadium for Cornwall project on this occasion.
“We had understood that submissions to the ‘culture’ strand of LUF were additional to the six Parliamentary constituency bids we are able to put forward under the rules. However, this is not the case and we have taken the decision to focus on those constituency bids at this time.
“We would like to thank the stadium partners for the work they have done and will continue to work with them to identify appropriate funding opportunities in the future.”
Martin Tucker, Chair of the Stadium for Cornwall CIC and Principal of Truro and Penwith College, said: “The council had requested that the CIC write the bid on their behalf and it was actively engaged in the writing process at the time. At no stage of this process was the CIC asked to re-submit the Stadium for Cornwall business case and remained confident of its delivery following previous scrutiny and approval by Sport England on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media & Sport.
“The reason given to the CIC for the withdrawal of Culture bid support was a reluctance from both the Council and local MPs, to see funding going towards the Stadium project at the expense of other projects that might go for funding in future rounds of the Levelling Up programme.
“As a result of the council’s withdrawal, the Stadium for Cornwall CIC has voted to cease co-developing the Stadium for Cornwall project in its former capacity.
“Truro and Penwith College will no longer be a key stakeholder in the project, which is a huge disappointment after 12 years of hard work from everyone involved.
“Those concerned will now move to support the future of the Langarth site as a Truro City Football Club led development and remain fully supportive of their efforts to create a smaller ground facility that would still provide for rugby, football, and importantly, high levels of community use for people and organisations from across Cornwall”.
Speaking with reference to the CIC statement, Cornish Pirates CEO and Stadium for Cornwall CIC Trustee Rebecca Thomas said: “It is extremely disappointing that after many years and seemingly making good steps towards the Stadium for Cornwall facility that it has now come to this.
“We have worked tirelessly as one of the stadium partners to deliver a facility that would benefit the whole of Cornwall, providing top level sport, community and business use.
“The Cornish Pirates Ltd Board still remain committed to securing further investment to develop a facility that will enable Truro City Football Club to return to the County and that will allow the continued ambition of providing top level rugby in Cornwall”.
In a statement, Cornwall Council said: “Due to a change in the Levelling Up Fund criteria Cornwall Council has taken the decision not to submit a bid for the Stadium for Cornwall project on this occasion.
“We had understood that submissions to the ‘culture’ strand of LUF were additional to the 6 Parliamentary constituency bids we are able to put forward under the rules. However, this is not the case and we have taken the decision to focus on those constituency bids at this time.
“We would like to thank the stadium partners for the work they have done and will continue to work with them to identify appropriate funding opportunities in the future”.
As mentioned, there are some fears over the 7th tier club’s future after suffering the stadium blow…
@Scottylaughton: What a joke they are!
@Tawnyowl123: Sad day for Cornwall
@djp1763: Only private enterprise can deliver the stadium – local and national government totally unreliable.
@Cornwall_Ram: So where does this leave @TCFC_Official. Will they ever gat back to playing in Cornwall?
@Knights_Toby: Disgraceful, absolutely no ambition
@albijohn99: Where does that leave Truro City?
@ScottYendle: Absolute shambles, still a shame knocking down treyew completely ruined the football club
@fanatical100: A lot of childrens dreams shattered unfortunately
@justinmurray1: @CornwallCouncil are only interested in selling land to developers and nothing else. They don’t invest in any leisure facilities at all. They never had any intentions of helping the stadium development.
@burngold: Poor Truro city FC, They are literally homeless…
@Cursong74: Firstly I’m not surprised. Secondly this is a terrible blow for Cornwall, Truro FC, Pirates Rugby and the many other community groups that could have used it, not to mention the other benefits it could/would have brought to Cornwall
@Guys_page: This is a catastrophic blow for inspiring sport and health in future generations as well the community capital it would have created. A disgraceful decision for Cornwall by @CornwallCouncil. 😞
@Simonpasty: Very disappointing news. Cities up country have multiple stadiums, yet we can’t get one in our county. No wonder we’re so behind the rest of the country for so many things, it’s a real blow to our great sports men and women. Real shame #Cornwall #stadiumforCornwall #sport
@BarksBarker: 12 years!! 12 years what a waste of time!
@nickcollett62: @TCFC_Official What a sad day 12 years and we are no further forward on a Ground! What’s going to happen now?????
@AndyRee5R1: At a guess a pitch with a smaller stand at langarth, paid for by a group with no council funding with no chance of making it any bigger!!
@Sportywagon: After years of prevarication not sure where this leaves @TCFC_Official but probably not in a good place,as developers have pulled out of the Stadium 4 Cornwall development after Cornwall County Council chose not to pursue levelling up government money to part fund the project
@official_ScottH: Huge credit to @CornishPirates1 amongst other partners who have been let down continuously but have had integrity throughout this WHOLE process. AND let’s now show support to @TCFC_Official who tonight are homeless without a facility fit for their future in their city and county.
@dicaniojames: Shocking news, will @TCFC_Official ever play football in truro again?? @Cornishfootball