Friday 16th September 2005

Stones receive council backing ahead of Vase tie

There looks to be more good news on the horizon for Kentish Observer League club Maidstone United, after the council agreed to loan them the £98,000, which the club needs to play to secure the lease on their new ground, reports www.maidstoneunited.co.uk

This will now speed things up with the ground as the club were having to work hard to secure the funding by other means.

Although the Stones have yet to be formally contacted by the council with the offer, this should be confirmed next week after confirmation by the council's Scrutiny Panel.

In a statement for the Stones Official Website today, Chairman Paul Bowden-Brown said;" As you all know I received confirmation earlier in the year from the MOD that instead of paying a yearly sum of approximately £10,000 for 10 years, they would require the total valuation of the ground on the signing of the lease.

"This personally caused me a problem regarding cash flow. I initially made contact with finance houses and had three that offered between 60-70 % of the sum required.

"However, they required personal guarantees from me which was not acceptable. When the announcement of Dartford's new ground was made I enquired as to whether the council would help. Sadly, they were unable to help with the building costs because there is no community development taking place unlike Dartford's scheme."

"I made contact with Trevor Gasson who has been very supportive from the outset of bringing Maidstone home, and he arranged a meeting with the relevant officers. I put the clubs case and at their request, produced a business plan and submitted it to the council. After initial deliberations it was accepted in principle and put forward at Wednesday's Cabinet meeting and accepted."

"Although I have not been informed officially, I know it to be a fact from reliable sources, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the council that got involved initially and the cabinet for supporting by application for a loan to help pay the lease."

"I now have to wait until the MOD solicitors reply to my alterations to the lease and once I have their agreement we can complete knowing that the money is available when required. A more detailed press release will be issued when I have received confirmation from the council, but the Stones are coming home!"

And on the pitch, coach Alan Walker reflected on last Saturday's disappointing FA Cup exit at the hands of Southern League outfit Burnham.

But the former Sittingbourne, Tonbridge and Bromley boss wasn't too disheartened and hoped for a change in fortune as the Stones start their FA Vase campaign, with a home game against Cowes Sports - who lost 4-0 at Margate in the FA Cup last Saturday - tomorrow.

"Obviously we're disappointed to get knocked out at such an early stage of the FA Cup, but I didn't feel we actually played that badly and really the result wasn't a fair reflection of how we played," he said.

"In patches we played some good football and after the game I said that we will win a lot more than we lose if we play like that.

"Sadly the luck just wasn't with us with the disallowed goal and a superb save by their keeper from Lyndon's shot. T

"The first goal you have to be disappointed with, after it came from a mistake from Neil Miller, but it has to be said he was having a great game up until the mistake.

"The second goal you have to hold you hands up and say it was a great strike. On the other hand it's a relief to not be in the FA Cup, last year it cost us Peter Overton and Ryan Royston and this season we lost Mario and Lloyd, so it's not been a lucky competition for us in terms of injuries!"

"It was also a good debut for stand in keeper Dave Wietecha, who looked very sure and strong in goal, but after the game he was disappointed not to have saved the first goal which he did get a hand to."

Looking forward to the Vase game against Cowes Sports, Walker was not predicting an easy game.

"We had them watched and reports say that on their day they can be a very good side, so once again we will have to be at our best to progress," he said.

"If we match their endeavour and their work rate and put in the hard work I'm sure that we can progress and that can only be helped with the support of our fans."

The team news ahead of the game is mixed. Mario Celaire had an X-Ray midweek on his foot and there was no sign of a break, but he was still suffering some discomfort so he will undergo a late fitness test before the game.

Also a doubt is Matt Nicholl who suffered a slight strain in midweek training and Luke Anderson who is suffering with a slight knee problem. Adam Hewitson returns to the squad for Saturday, but Jimmy Strouts will once again be missing despite completing his suspension because of work commitments.

Maidstone United v Cowes Sports
FA Vase First Qualifying Round
Saturday 17th September 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Bourne Park, Central Park, Eurolink, Castle Road, Sittingbourne