Basingstoke Town FC have given a trailblazing show of support to a local good cause by agreeing to rename their ground as the Ark Cancer Charity Stadium for next season.
The significant backing for the charity, which is raising £5million towards a unique local cancer treatment centre that will be built in the Basingstoke area, is believed to be the first time that a club in the football league pyramid have renamed their stadium after a charity for a whole season.
Support for the proposal, which will be part of a partnership between the club and charity for the 2016-17 season, came at an end-of-season fans’ forum last Friday night (6th May).
Mark Jones, director of fundraising and communications for Ark Cancer Centre Charity, was invited by club chairman Rafi Razzak to speak about the partnership proposal, including the stadium naming idea, at the forum. Rafi then asked the fans if they wanted to support the renaming move, and a majority were in favour of doing so.
Rafi, who is a long-standing supporter of the charity himself, believes the partnership between the club and charity is another positive development as the club looks to bounce back after this season’s relegation from National League South.
He said: “I was happy to put this idea to a vote, and we would not have taken the proposal forward if the majority of the fans at the forum had not voted to support it.
“Ark Cancer Centre Charity is raising money for a much-needed cancer treatment centre, and as chairman of our community-focused club, I am delighted that Basingstoke Town FC will be involved in helping to raise awareness of the charity’s £5m appeal and the cancer treatment centre project.
“Despite being relegated this season, I am very optimistic about the plans that we have both on and off the pitch for next season, and the partnership with Ark Cancer Centre Charity is another positive development.”
Mark Jones said: “I am very grateful to the fans and directors for their support for the charity. I believe this is the first time that a club in the football league pyramid has ever named their stadium after a charity for a whole season. It is a positive, generous and significant show of support by the club.
“Basingstoke Town FC is at the heart of the local community and it is a club with a great history. It was great to hear about the positive plans for next season at the fans’ forum, and the charity will be proud and honoured to play a part in helping to raise the profile of the club in 2016-17.”
The success of the charity’s £5m appeal will ensure a range of support services and complementary therapies are available alongside chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments in a calm and uplifting environment.
The new centre is earmarked for a location in the Basingstoke and Deane area, and if the preferred site near to Junction 7 of the M3 is approved, it will be easily accessible to everyone in the HHFT region. The centre is scheduled to open at the end of 2018.