High level discussions are taking place between Salisbury FC, Wiltshire Council and Sport England on a potential new community stadium for the Whites.

The talks, which have been going on for the past year, have reached an advanced stage with the lease at the Ray Mac, home of the Whites since 1997, set to run out in May, 2017.

It is expected the stadium complex will include at least one 3G pitch, the first synthetic purpose built football pitch in the city. Currently the nearest 3G pitch is in Bulford.

As part of the terms of the lease agreement the trustees of the stadium would need to find a new home for the Whites if the football club were kicked out. But as Whites chairman David Phillips admitted they would only need to provide land and not fork out the cost of the new stadium which would likely be funded from community money set aside by developers.

However, JournalSport understands that a potential location has already been identified and it could even be announced within a few weeks.

“We are seeing what is available [with Wiltshire Council] and seeing where we can relocate,” Phillips said.

“[If we moved] then it would just be a field, a stadium would need to be built. So much is up in the air at the moment and so many possibilities.

“Finding somewhere, moving us there and building something would be more sustainable because Wiltshire Council are going to be involved. I suspect they will be looking to get 3G pitches there which would produce a fantastic income and sustain the club — more of a community idea.

“It is frustrating because we can’t do anything without finding somewhere else to go and that is the difficult part.”

Representatives from Wiltshire Council were at the game on Tuesday night to continue talks.

However, Phillips would not commit to definitely moving out of the stadium. When asked if the Whites would leave the Ray Mac after next season, he replied: “I don’t know.”

“They can’t build on this place unless they find us somewhere else,” he added. “That won’t change. If the trustees decide not to renew the lease they have a problem because they will struggle get planning permission.

“And it would cost more because we are paying them rent, which they wouldn’t be getting if we left.”

Wiltshire Council cabinet member Jonathon Seed confirmed that talks were taking place but refused to give out any more details citing commercial sensitivity.

“We are trying all we can to help Salisbury but at this stage I would not want to say anything because it could prejudice negotiations,” he said.

Source: www.salisburyjournal.co.uk

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