The news that a submission has been made to build a new ground along with an enabling development of 400 houses at Chiswell Green adjacent to the M25, is probably of no surprise to St Albans City FC supporters.
The owners have for a number of years made clear their intentions to provide a ground that facilitates more than just 1 or 2 matches a fortnight, something that is not achievable at Clarence Park due to the limited space and restrictive covenant on the location.
The Supporters Trust recently circulated a survey to members when a site was proposed at Colney Heath Lane in 2013. At the time there was no overall consensus regarding the move.
We will again be canvassing all supporters on their views on the proposed new site.
For many years now the football club has been seeking to relocate from Clarence Park and the efforts of the current owners have gone a long way down to meeting this objective compared to any previous attempts. The ground will include facilities for conferences/banqueting and other uses which would bring in much needed non match day revenue and hopefully make the club financially sustainable without the current annual cash injection from the owners.
It is difficult to see any way that the club can be a self financing organisation by remaining at the current location, where anything up to £100k shortfall occurs each season. Supporters and volunteers at the club see each match day the shortcomings at Clarence Park in terms of parking, accessibility, facilities for supporters and a crumbling infrastructure. That said, the Trust will be looking for certain conditions to be in place to protect the proposed new ground for use as a sports facility for the whole of its life.
This proposed move will certainly not meet with universal support from everyone given the location and the additional travel distance to matches.
We as a Supporters Trust will review what is proposed and the business plan that backs it up just as we did with the 2013 site and raise issues from supporters with the owners.