Monday 9 March 2009

Fans' Forum - The Odsal Debate

On Saturday a packed bantamspast museum saw City fans debating whether the club should move to the projected Odsal Sporting Village. One interested observer was City's David Baldwin, who as we shall see, ended up making a valuable contribution.
Nick Kitchen talked of how he had first engaged the council with his petition to increase the council's involvement with the club. The Supporters Trust chairman Alan Carling gave an interesting talk on how they had tried - in vain thus far - to involve the council in a buy out of Valley Parade. He also talked of the possibility of Valley Parade becoming a community owned venue.
Of course, Valley Parade is currently owned by our former chairman Gordon Gibb. The museum's David Pendleton outlined the costs incurred by City and outlined the options understood to be open to the club. At this point City's David Baldwin took the floor and explained that everyone on the board wanted the club to remain at Valley Parade.
Their first option was to buy back the ground, indeed he had written to Gordon Gibb requesting a valuation and was awaiting a reply. If that failed, then they would seek to renegotiate the rent. The current overheads run to £1.2m per year, which is obviously unsustainable for a League Two club. If all that failed, and the Odsal development went ahead, then for the long term viability of the club they would reluctantly consider a move to Odsal.
David Pendleton outlined the heavy public investment that has been made into Odsal since the 1930s. He stressed that the debate should not descend into a City v Bulls bun fight, but that the council should be asked why they were continuing to place such huge amounts of public money into Odsal when a modern large capacity stadium already exists at Valley Parade. Why spend £15m of money from the sale of the airport when probably something in the order of £2.5m would secure Valley Parade? That would leave £12.5m to spend on improving community sporting facilities right across the district
In a final plea, fans were asked to highlight the issues via letters to councillors and newspapers. This is a debate that can be won. The fight for Valley Parade is on.

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