An application, by Rovers Trust, to further protect Blackburn Rovers’ Training Ground and Academy at Brockhall has been rejected by Ribble Valley Council. Rovers Trust had asked that Brockhall be listed as an ‘asset of community value’ which would have legally recognised the community value of the property and limited the ability of the owners to sell it off secretly and swiftly.
The Trust had argued that Brockhall has community value because:
a) it is an integral part of Blackburn Rovers
b) it is used for events such as training camps and spectators at academy matches.
Michael Doherty, the Trust’s Legal and Policy Officer said, ‘The most disappointing aspect of this decision is that the people running our Club have objected to it so strongly. They brought in a global law firm and instructed them to argue that Brockhall is a private facility and to dispute that Brockhall is an integral part of Blackburn Rovers’. The Club said that that ‘The [training and academy] facilities could be provided elsewhere (although there are no current plans to do that’.
Rovers Trust believes that, if the Club’s owners and directors are as genuinely committed to Brockhall as they say they are, they would not have opposed the very modest limitations provided by ‘community value’ listing. Derby County showed, in relation to a similar application in 2015, that club owners do not necessarily have to be hostile to community listing.
Michael Doherty said ‘The Trust would like to thank its members, particularly from the Ribble Valley, who supported this application. Our legal research shows that there are still important protections over Brockhall in property and planning law. We will remain vigilant in making sure those protections continue to apply to protect the long-term legacy that Jack Walker left for the Club and for all Rovers supporters’.
The Trust’s Chair, John Murray, said ‘We are disappointed that this particular application has been rejected, but the work of the Trust goes on. Recent events at Blackpool Football Club show that, if supporters stick together, they can make a difference and help to bring an end to bad ownership of their clubs’.