London Mayor Sadiq Khan puts Cray Wanderers' future at risk despite claiming to support London's football clubs

Saturday 25th June 2016

Sadiq Khan claimed in his campaign that he would support London football clubs – but he has gone against his word and has put the future of London’s oldest football club at risk.

Cray Wanderers Football Club were founded in 1860 are the Second Oldest Football Club in the World behind Sheffield Football Club and they play in the Ryman League Division One South – in the eighth tier of English football.

FUTURE AT RISK: Cray Wanderers (amber) playing at Oxford Road, Sidcup, are proud of their heritage, which is at risk thanks to London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Photo: Cray Wanderers FC Wikipedia page

The club were forced to vacate their Oxford Road base in Sidcup because they had to play at a ground with floodlights so in 1999 they hired Bromley’s Hayes Lane ground and chairman Gary Hillman has been working tirelessly hard and spending an awful lot of money to find a stadium that they can call home.

In the summer of 2008, the club announced plans to move to a new stadium at Sandy Lane.  The bid was rejected unanimously by all councillors on Bromley Council’s development control committee on Thursday 20 September 2012. This was for a number of reasons, but mainly because the club was hoping to build a Football League sized stadium, using the profits from building nearly 200 houses and a large hotel on Green Belt Lane.

On 3 October 2014, Cray Wanderers signed a conditional contract to purchase Flamingo Park Sports Centre on the A20 Sidcup by-pass. The club had an 18-month period to obtain planning consent from Bromley Council for a new sporting community hub, featuring a new multi-sport stadium with a capacity of 1,300.  This was achieved when the Council approved the proposal in April.

A football stadium brings benefits to its local community – just ask Dartford and Maidstone United of their success stories both on and off the pitch since returning home following their lengthy exiles.

It would be so easy for Mr Hillman and his team to throw in the towel after this week’s news that Khan has turned down Flamingo Park at the very last hurdle. 

But this is the time to fight Khan, who has clearly lied and gone against his manifesto that he published before winning the race to become London Mayor.

Khan issued nine priorities during his campaign.

* Business, prosperity and opportunity
* Homes for Londoners
* A modern and affordable transport network
* A safer and secure London
* Skills for Londoners
* A fairer and more equal city
* A greener, cleaner London
* Improving London’s health
* Making the most of arts, culture and creativity

Khan, just like any other Politian, says one thing to get your vote – then does the complete opposite.

I will not let him kill-off one of our non-league football clubs.

In his Manifesto, Khan claimed he would:

* Develop a comprehensive public health strategy, focused around the promotion of active lifestyles, including sport, walking and cycling, to all Londoners, supporting those who want to shake off lifestyle risks such as drugs, smoking and alcohol, and tackling childhood obesity, including through challenging the spread of fast food shops in areas close to schools.

* London is a sporting city, and I’ll ensure that while retaining our global status as a venue for professional sporting competition, we do all we can as a city to enable and encourage more people to participate and compete at every level. I will:  

  • Use the London Plan to protect playing fields.
  • Work with London’s football and other major sports clubs to support and expand their vast capacity for making a positive impact in the community, especially with young people.

City Hall issued the following statement on Wednesday to explain why they are breaking Cray Wanderers’ stadium hopes.

“The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is fulfilling his pledge to Londoners to protect the capital's Green Belt by refusing planning permission for a development that would encroach on green space in the city.

In one of his first planning moves, the Mayor reaffirmed his commitment to oppose building on Green Belt land by rejecting plans for a three-storey football stadium and blocks of flats in Chislehurst.

The development, which included building a football stadium for Cray Wanderers Football Club, community sports pitches and two four-storey residential blocks of 28 flats, had been approved by Bromley Council. However, after carrying out a detailed assessment, the Mayor believes the plans would cause significant harm to an area of much needed open green space. He was also concerned the application at Flamingo Park Club included no affordable housing. 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am determined to oppose building on the Green Belt, which is now even more important than when it was created.

“Working with my planning team, I will continue to use my full range of planning powers to further strengthen protections for open and green spaces in the London Plan and ensure we are making the most of brownfield sites across the city, including the vast swathes of public land which are ripe for building homes for Londoners.”

The Mayor has also used his planning powers to give consent to several schemes, boosting housing supply in the capital and he is keen to work with boroughs, developers and housing associations to work towards the 50,000 homes London needs each year.

Sadiq Khan said: “I want to work with developers to build the homes London so desperately needs and I will be the first Mayor to use my planning powers to much greater effect, supporting boroughs rather than hindering them, and getting a firm grip on the housing crisis.”

Local residents, former players, supporters of Cray Wanderers and other football teams are welcome to air their thoughts and together we can get Khan, who claims to be a Liverpool supporter – ironically, not even a London based club – see the error in his ways.

As a life-long Bromley fan (since 1989), us loyal supporters who were supporting the club during some dire times both on-and-off-the-pitch like liquidation, stadium fires and playing away from Hayes Lane, unlike the rosy times of playing National League (tier five) football nowadays playing and beating the likes of Wrexham and Torquay United in front of large crowds of over 1,500, see Cray Wanderers as a little brother, one to protect and look after.

That is why I am making sure that Cray Wanderers win their biggest match yet!