Dartford Council: It's good to share
Cllr Jeremy Kite, who admits to becoming “totally passionate about The Darts” over the course of the last two seasons, has quashed football fans’ fears that their impressive new 4,100 capacity home will be more of a Rugby League venue than football.
He said: “I hope we have done enough to earn fans trust now and I can assure you we don’t take it for granted.
”We thought long and hard before exploring the Ravens Rugby League scenario and one of the key issues was precisely what has been raised by Dartford fans - whether bringing Rugby League in would dilute the sense that Princes Park was THE home of The Darts.”
But when the football season ends in April/May next year, Princes Park will host the oval shaped ball game to reap financial rewards.
Cllr Kite said: “You have probably guessed by now that I - and some of my colleagues - have become totally passionate about The Darts over these last two seasons and I can assure you that there's only one partner in Princes Park - and that’s Dartford Football Club.
”But the simple fact is that if we leave the Stadium empty over the summer, it's simply cuts a big black hole in potential revenues and doesn't do justice to this wonderful asset.”
Officials of the Rugby League club understand the situation at Kent’s newest – and best – football stadium.
A statement on their website said: "Dartford Football Club's new ground is simply superb and deserves to be in use during the four summer months when football is out of season.
”The Kent Ravens could be an ideal solution and ensure the stadium offers family sport all through the year. Naturally, the interests of the football club come first..."
Darts fans feel their new home should solely be used by them, but Cllr Kite appreciates such feelings – but feels using the venue all year round is the best option.
”The interests of the football club comes first but I think a lot of the concern is because the Ravens are likely to be playing from the first summer season at Princes Park,” he said.
“I've thought about it a lot and I have come to the conclusion that if the Darts had been established at Princes Park for ten years and then announced the hiring of the facility to a Rugby League club in the summer we would probably all be celebrating it as a great business move.
”As it is, it probably hurts a bit to think that another user will be hiring Princes Park straightaway after you have had to suffer 14 hurtful years with no home.
”Are they lucky? Yes. Did they come along at just the right time? Yes. Is rugby more important to Princes Park than The Darts? No.”
Cllr Kite, meanwhile, admitted the Kent Ravens’ are proud of their new home.
He said: ”They are proud of their club and they are good people. Sure they boast a bit and talk with pride about a great new ground they will be using but thinking logically, I would rather have users at Princes Park who talk about the stadium being their 'home' too because they are far more likely to look after the place and nurture it.
“Alan Bacon is developing a fine little Rugby League club and yes, he has ambitions and pride in it - but is that so wrong?
”Princes Park is the home of the Darts and anything else is just business - it's just that I want a 'good' business there rather than a 'dodgy' one. I hope that both clubs get along and I genuinely feel it is just a matter of time and familiarity with each other.
”Believe me, we can't allow the Stadium to stand empty for months just because we're proud of it and go all warm and tingly when we think of keeping it all for ourselves.”
Visit Dartford Football Club’s websites: www.dartfordfc.co.uk and www.dartfordfootballclub.co.uk