Following on from the news that the Club are planning to sell the Senior Training Centre at Brockhall, the Rovers Trust issued a press release asking the Club for answers to what we believed were fair and relevant questions relating to this matter. Last week the Trust had an online meeting with Rovers’ CEO, Steve Waggott, who kindly gave the Trust some time for it to provide responses. The Trust is happy to share these with its Members now.
This has been transcribed from the video recording of the meeting, which lasted around an hour. Anything in quotes and italics is an accurate representation of the replies given. There was a reasonable amount of other discussion and repetition in the meeting and this has not been included for clarity and relevance. The Trust agreed with Steve that any commercially sensitive information would be kept confidential and has been done so.
Is the Club aware of legal Covenants placed by the Walker Trust when the sale of the Club was completed, preventing the land being used for housing?
“In 2018/19 TM started training at the LTC, using pitch five, as it was a more discreet site and we preferred to work from the bottom site for the first team. All the facilities at the top site were good enough for the Academy, for the Cat One status as well.
We thought we would put a coaching plan together for an integrated model that would see the Academy, Development Squad, Under-23s and First Team all sit together in the same building. Having them all together is something we feel is really useful, especially with the pressure of Brexit on the way.
I’ve got our Legal Team to interrogate the different transfer sale documents; there were negative Covenants on the original lower site and you couldn’t build the actual training facilities club house more than 9300 square feet but this fell away seven years after the sale took place in 1993 (in September 2000).
On the upper site, with all our research, it hasn’t shown up any negative Covenants to stop a residential project proposal being carried out on the site.”
Why was the process begun before the proposal was outlined to the supporters? Was this a result of social media speculation?
Who is being asked to carry out the initial consulting work?
Peacock and Smith (Planning)
BE1 For Design Work
Camargue for PR
What is the likely cost of the work?
“Unknown, but 100% of the sale of the land, should it happen, will go towards the new facility. If more is needed, then the Owners may have to contribute.”
Will this affect the transfer budget?
Does this affect the Academy Category One status?
“There’s a few challenges if the project gets the green light; pitch wise we think we can program the pitches, it’s the building of the actual Training Centre itself where we have to have classrooms, gyms and everything else that can integrate into the model which will be a challenge in design; again without spending too much cost on the design. The restrictions on the First Team are imposed by the Club, whereas the Academy’s is imposed by an external body, the Premier League.
This whole move is predicated by Brexit, the issues of recruitment in Europe and abroad now, a points system, and UK players and local players become a premium....it’s such a competitive market we need to grow our own talentand the facilities are…
[INTERUPTED BY QUESTION-If it aint broke why fix it?]-Two things, the facilities are nearly 30 years old they are tired, they are good don’t get me wrong, they service the basic needs of what we want. The split site, even though we bring the U18s and U23 up, the Manager would work better if we can see all the players together on nearby pitches.
[QUESTION-How can two separate centres be better than one merged centre?]It’s all about the integration model, how we utilise a much more modern, state of the art facility for all teams to come together then to program the use of the pitches. The hours are flexible now…. with Sky TV etc...and we have got to fulfil the Cat One requirements which is absolutely pivotal to this.”
[QUESTION Is this not an asset stripping process and downgrading of the Academy status?]
In the pre-planning process request we didn’t have to link the two, I insisted that they were. So that one can’t happen without the other, I don’t want to be accused of asset stripping that’s not what I`m about, I am about trying to push the club forwards. Category One is absolutely essential to this Club, it costs the club £1.9m a year to maintain, with a top up grant for £1.2m -it’s a £3m operation. Because of Brexit and COVID-19 situations, it’s crystalized this.
Part of the development includes matching a new pitch at Ewood (a stitch pitch) to the new ones at the training centres.
This all about player development.
I can categorically state that Venky’s have not asked us to raise money by selling the land for development.”
Where did the decision to merge the centre come from, e.g. players, coaching staff, Ewood management, Venky’s?
“From the Club.”[Answered partly in the last section also].
What is the plan should the Council reject the planning permission?
“The status quo will remain. We may have another look at taking the First Team down the hill and switching the sites and look at more and more integration of the operation side of things.”
Are there any FFP implications?
“We are currently compliant.”[Longer answer subject to confidentiality].
The Scoping Document for the Brockhall development (not Planning Permission) is due to be lodged with Ribble Valley BC on Thursday 11th March.
The KEY role of the Rovers Trust is to preserve the Assets, Status and Heritage of OUR Club. Whilst this does not mean outright opposition to any ‘progress’ it does mean vigilance that the Club does not take a wrong turn, especially after a very difficult decade.
You will want to express your opinions on this:
- To firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you are a Ribble Valley resident (and 148 of our members are) to Nigel Evans MP and/or your Councillor
- Brockhall Residents have set up an Action Group
- Any Trust members can write to Ribble Valley BC Chief Executive, Marshal Scott about this bid via Marshal.Scott@ribblevalley.co.uk
Volume counts on this!
Non-Members of the Trust or lapsed Members, may wish to join the Trust via www.roverstrust.com/registration-page/. As a Community Benefit Society we have to charge a membership fee. No official of the Trust takes any fees. AGM is planned for late-June 21.
JM/OJ March 21