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Bid to protect home of Swindon Town football
10:00am Wednesday 23rd October 2013 in News
A BID to have Swindon Town’s County Ground recognised as a community asset to safeguard it for future fans is being moved by a Labour councillor.
Coun Jim Robbins will present the motion to the next full council meeting to back the efforts of the Swindon Town Supporters Trust who want the County Ground, which is owned by the Council, to be crowned as an asset of the community.
Making the stadium a community asset will mean if the site was ever sold off, the fans would get first right to bid for taking it over. If passed, this will be the first time that any section of land or building has been given the special status in the town.
“This is going to benefit the fans rather than the football club,” said Coun Robbins, who represents the Mannington and Western wards. “It will hopefully add another level of security for them. If something did happen at the football club, and I am not saying it will, but it will mean the supporters will be given six months to try and raise the money to buy it.
“It stops anything happening on the quiet without the fans knowing.”
Coun Robbins, who is an Ipswich Town supporter, said he first came up with the idea after he saw fans at his club, along with Liverpool FC and Manchester United fans apply for the status for their grounds.
The motion states football clubs are vital community assets and cannot be classed as normal businesses. Local communities, businesses and supporters have strong interests in the way in which football clubs are run and their long-term sustainability.
The “benefactor model” of ownership has led to a number of clubs entering administration or liquidation, which results in debts to local businesses going unpaid and communities without a local club to support.
“It just means the fans will have more of a say over what happens to their ground,” added Coun Robbins. “We have all seen examples around the country where people have lost their grounds. This will hopefully stop that ever happening here.”
If the motion is approved then the council will work to designate the County Ground as an Asset of Community Value.
And to ask the chief executive, Gavin Jones, to write to the board of Swindon Town Football Club to lobby them to encourage fan influence and participation at board level at their football club.
The council meeting is taking place on November 7.
at the Civic Offices at 7pm.
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