Decision day looms for which of two groups will take over Estover playing fields, March, when pavilion finally opens

PUBLISHED: 12:36 03 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:36 03 January 2020

The pavilion at Estover playing fields is nearing completion. Now March Town Council must decide which of two competing groups will run it. Picture; HARRY RUTTER

The pavilion at Estover playing fields is nearing completion. Now March Town Council must decide which of two competing groups will run it. Picture; HARRY RUTTER

Archant

Two competing bodies are in the running to take over the running of Estover playing field and the new sports pavilion which is due to open shortly.

March Town Council says the pavilion is nearing completion.

Now they are finalising which of two groups - March Academy and March Town United FC Ltd - will be handed the keys.

"Without doubt both parties have things to commend them," says a town council report.

"March Academy operates the biggest numbers of teams in March.

"March Town United FC Ltd has more experience in overall site and clubhouse management."

Resolution of who runs the club would see the disbandment of Estover Playing Field 2015 CIC (community interest company) which has brought the scheme to fruition.

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The company - wholly owned by the town council - is ready to pass on the management of the playing fields to enable the council to take a back seat.

"Primarily the site will be used by football clubs," says the town council report. Both interested parties have agreed that if successful they would take full control of the site and be responsible for the running costs.

The council says they have been in talks with March Academy for two years who in recent weeks had formed themselves into a charity, one of the requirements of the freeholder, Cambs County Council.

March Town Utd, who is amalgamating with March Park Rangers Youth, says they will form a specific CIC "if it is decided they are the preferred candidate".

The council report says: "The March Town Utd route would take a slightly longer period of time to complete since their approach was only made in the last few weeks." The county council will also allow a sub-lease or assignment to a CIC.

March Town Council says its expenditure so far has been £523,786 and is committed to spending a further £400,000 over the next five years.

The council has agreed that talks with both parties should continue with a final decision expected by mid-February.

At one stage MP Steve Barclay helped secure a £650,000 grant offer through the Premier League and the FA Facilities Fund but this was rejected because of the onerous conditions that came with it.


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