English League Two football club Grimsby Town has said it will push forward with relocation to a new stadium following the collapse of a proposed takeover, stating the facility could be delivered within three to five years.
London-based businessman Tom Shutes appeared close to sealing a takeover for the club last summer, but that has not materialised with Town now focused on resuming long-running efforts to secure a new stadium.
Town currently plays at Blundell Park (pictured), a 9,000-capacity stadium that has been its home since 1899. The club will now resurrect plans to deliver a new stadium on land in the East Marsh area of Grimsby, with director Philip Day leading the project as majority shareholder John Fenty focuses on his role as deputy leader of North East Lincolnshire Council.
“Unfortunately, we’ve been knocked back a couple of years,” Day told the Grimsby Live website. “We’ve always tried to work in the best interests of the football club, and that is why we entertained Mr Shutes for so long and gave him extension after extension to come up with various things which we required, to safeguard the future of the football club.
“We really have lost a couple of years almost, so we’re back to the drawing board and on a blank piece of paper at the moment. But we’re not going to sit on our hands, we’re going to get on with it ourselves as fast as possible.
“We’ve got to sort out the land ownership, and there’s various things we have to do before we actually submit the planning application, and then the planning process is not a short process, so three to five years is a reasonable timeframe.”
Fenty has said Town is no longer for sale, spelling out to BBC Radio Humberside that the club is planning for a 14,000-seat stadium costing in the region of £20m (€23.7m/$26.1m). He added: “There’s no doubt there’s going to have to be some public money.
“It will be a community stadium, and there lies the question of how you arrange the community elements to ensure there can be some genuine public support, and beyond that we’re going to have to put our hands in our pockets and look for grants and really bring this together.
“We’ve lost two years of headway at Freeman Street because of the distraction of relocating to the football club and the proposals that came about from Tom Shutes. I wish that hadn’t happened, it does feel an awful waste of time and a big distraction, and now we’ve got to get on with what we’re talking about, that is relocation to Freeman Street into a community stadium, and we’ll be working as hard as we can to enact that to happen.
“I suspect it’ll be a three to five year delivery, but what we have got is council backing, that’s been signified by the leader in the New Year in a press article, you can’t get stronger than that. It’s on his wish list, he wants this to happen, so do we, and we’ll be working to that end.”
Image: Grimsby Town