Friday 15th October 2004
www.yourcounty.co.uk -The Kent Website - Supporting Kentish Football

Football's coming home to Hartsdown Park

MARGATE have been given a boost ahead of Saturday's FA Cup third qualifying round trip to Braintree Town with the news that they can return to a re-developed Hartsdown Park, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Nationwide South club can confirm that its directors, together with officers of the Official Supporters Association met with Members and Officers of Thanet District Council late this afternoon.

The purpose of this meeting was for the club to make one last attempt to satisfy the Council that the club were deserving of the right to maintain its Nationwide South league status and therefore a full lease to its new stadium, which is a statutory requirement of the Conference League and the Football Association.

Margate can report a very positive meeting took place, the outcome of which will be confirmed in writing to the club on Monday.

Further to this the Council have since made the following statement:

"Margate Football Club can begin the road back to Hartsdown Park – that’s the message from Thanet Council, who say nothing should now be standing in the way of the stadium development.

"It had earlier been claimed by the club that a lease offer was required from the Council, so that they can meet Football Conference conditions.

"An offer of a ten-year lease was made at a meeting between representatives of the club, Independent Supporters Association, Councillors and Council officers this afternoon (Friday 15 October).

" The Football Conference has confirmed that this offer would be acceptable.

"Leader of Thanet Council, Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel, said: “The Council sees no reason why the club can not go ahead and start work immediately on their new stadium at Hartsdown Park.

"Our position has always been clear. We want to see Margate Football Club playing in their home town again and we have worked closely with them to achieve this.

"We have negotiated the hurdles and believe that the solution will see the club playing at Hartsdown Park by the end of the season.

"Now it is up to Margate Football Club to come up with a planning application for the commercial development at the site, a business plan and a project plan.”

He added: “There has been a lot of discussion over the Council’s stance that the stadium would be owned by the Council and rented by the club. Let me make this clear. The Council has put a lot of public money into this project.

"We have offered a lease of 125 years for commercial development at the site and we have offered a rent free period of five years. This, along with all the officer time invested in this scheme, amounts to hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money.

"We are accountable to the public and we need to ensure that they benefit from the amenities on the site and that the land remains in public ownership.

"We look forward to seeing Margate Football Club work with the community to develop football and we are actively encouraging them to do just that.”

Courtesy of: www.margate-fc.com