Tuesday 22nd February 2005

07979 418 360

Nothing standing in Margate's way

PLANS to bring football back to Hartsdown Park from next season have been agreed at a meeting between Thanet District Council and Margate Football Club, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Nationwide Conference South club had asked the council to assign the current lease for the ground to a wholly owned subsidiary company, Hartsdown Development Company and legal discussions to assign the lease will now begin.

This would allow funding to be made available from the club's development partners, so that the pitch will be reinstated to Conference South standard in time for the start of the 2005-06 season in August.  Stands and terraces would also be erected at the site.

The latest announcement does not commit either side to commercial development at Hartsdown Park.  The council has told the club that the independent evaluation of those plans suggested that further information is required and that any further negotiations would require a robust business plan and a project plan.

In a statement published on the club's website, Leader of the Council, Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel, said: "We have always said that we wanted to see football returning home to Margate and these plans will allow that to happen.  This is completely separate from the plans for commercial development at the site.  

"We will be keeping local residents and supporters fully informed of the progress in bringing the club back to the town and any future development proposals for the site."

Margate Football Club's acting chairman Colin Page added: "There is now nothing standing in the way of returning to our home ground in time for the new season.

"We know this news will delight our loyal fans, who want nothing more than to see football being brought back to Margate again.

"This will also give us the time that we need to put plans in place enabling developments at the site that are satisfactory to the council and we will be continuing negotiations with them on this subject."