Basingstoke Town have announced that they have provisionally agreed a ground share deal with Evo-Stik Southern Premier League Division One Central club Farnborough for the 2017/18 season.
The move would see Basingstoke supporters watching their club’s “home” games seventeen miles away from their home town, although does move to end some of the uncertainty surrounding their future.
Club Chairman Rafi Razzak is stepping down from his position at the end of the season and the club has planned to sell their Camrose home to fund a move to a new stadium.
Their attempts to find a new home have been frustrated with two possible sites being identified but no deal was able to be completed.
Their search for a new permanent home in Basingstoke goes on, although in a statement the club’s CEO David Knight said that “The success of any proposal to find a new ground within the town or borough will depend on significant co-operation from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council”.
The club also revealed that they have entered into negotiations with Sydenhams Wessex League club Whitchurch United about the possibility of a long-term ground share at their Longmeadow home.
However at this point in time it looks like the club will play their home games at Farnborough’s Cherrywood Road ground next season, once the finer details of the deal have been confirmed.
A statement on the Basingstoke Town website read “Basingstoke Town FC officials have taken steps to clarify the position regarding where the club will play first team football next season.
“As has been previously reported, Rafi Razzak, chairman of Basingstoke Town FC, has confirmed that he intends to leave the club at the end of this season, and the plan is for the club’s existing Camrose ground to be sold for redevelopment. Part of the funds from this sale will then be used to help the club move forward at a new home.
“David Knight, CEO of Basingstoke Town FC, said: “Everyone at the club who has been involved in the decision-making process about its future has been working hard to find a new ground in the town or borough. That is, and will continue to be, our main focus and goal.
“Following the collapse of two potential options for a new ground, further discussions are now taking place. However, what has become clear is that the club has to have a ground-share option available for the 2017-18 season in order to meet a Football Association March 31 deadline which requires clubs to state where the first team intends to play football in the coming season.
“With this in mind, the club has agreed a provisional ground-share arrangement for 2017-18 with Farnborough FC. The finer details have still to be confirmed and these will be announced as soon as possible.
“Farnborough is considered to be the best ground-share option, particularly because its high-quality facilities will enable our first team manager Terry Brown to retain and attract the quality of players that he needs as part of the ongoing work to deliver long-term progress and success.”
“Mr Knight added it is still possible that the club could find an alternative home within the town or borough for the 2017-18 season but time is clearly running out, and any attempt to do so will require the help and support of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.
“He explained: “The success of any proposal to find a new ground within the town or borough will depend on significant co-operation from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.
“Everyone at the club hopes that local councillors will be keen to offer their help and support. We are keen to work with the local council to help the club remain in the town which has been its home for more than 120 years.”
“If the club has to relocate to Farnborough next season, the aim will be to return to the borough as soon as possible.
“Mr Knight said: “With this goal in mind, the club has entered into discussions with Whitchurch United to explore a long-term ground-sharing possibility.
“There is also the potential to expand and develop another site within Basingstoke, but discussions are at a very early stage in this instance. Should this become a viable option, the club will announce those details at the earliest opportunity.”
Farnborough released their own statement and said that they have had “other ground share interest” so would look to confirm the final decision as soon as possible.
Their statement said ““We further add that we will do everything to support our neighbours but as we have had other ground share interest, we will announce the final decision as soon as possible.
“We know that time is of the essence for everyone. We appreciate that the ground share is hopefully only for one season whilst Basingstoke Town negotiate the return to their town and wish them the very best in those discussions.
“We look forward to welcoming everyone involved at Basingstoke Town Football Club to Cherrywood Road in due course.”
Article: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)