Mid Suffolk District Council has kicked off talks to safeguard the future of Stowmarket Football Club.
Councillors at Mid Suffolk District Council are set to consider a proposal over the future of Stowmarket Football Club’s ground – which will also unlock crucial funding from the Football Association.
Cabinet members are due to discuss a proposal next month that would see a new lease granted to the club for the next 50 years.
This would provide the club with the necessary security in respect of council-owned land, allowing them to attract funding from the Football Association to improve the ground and its facilities – meaning a win for the local community too.
The council owns around 60% of the club’s pitch and grounds at Bury Road, Stowmarket, while Stowmarket Church Charity own the remaining 40% plus surrounding flood land leading down to the River Gipping and under the A14.
A lease in place between the council and charity which lets the club use the land expires in March 2025, and without certainty over the future, the club is unable to secure investment from the Football Association to provide more covered seating and improve changing and toilet facilities on site.
Mid Suffolk District Council has been in discussions with Stowmarket Community Sports & Social Club Community Interest Company (incorporating Stowmarket Football Club) and Stowmarket Church Charity for several months – and is now proposing an agreement that would allow the CIC to remain on site and apply for FA funding.
Pending agreement by cabinet, the council is suggesting granting Stowmarket CIC a new lease for 50 years at a peppercorn rent.
It is also proposing subleasing the church land to the CIC but with the council continuing to pay the annual cost of £11,000 to the church charity until the current lease expires in 2025 – allowing time for both parties to agree future terms.
Mid Suffolk District Council’s cabinet member for assets and investments, Cllr Peter Gould said:
“This proposal ensures the football club can thrive in the future – something that’s not only great news for the club and the youngsters, adults and families who use it, but also for the wider community and for Stowmarket itself.
“As well as securing the best possible outcome for the future of the football club, this is also a responsible way of reducing the council’s expenditure and coming up with the fairest possible solution for everyone involved.”