Decision to award running of Estover pavilion and sports field to March Town FC the ‘unanimous’ choice of March town councillors

PUBLISHED: 15:47 02 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:46 02 March 2020

The new Estover playing field in March. Picture: HARRY RUTTER

The new Estover playing field in March. Picture: HARRY RUTTER

HARRY RUTTER

March Town Football Club has emerged as the successful contender to take over running of the Estover pavilion and playing fields.

The pavilion at Estover playing fields is nearing completion. March Town Council has now decided which of two competing groups will run it. Picture; HARRY RUTTERThe pavilion at Estover playing fields is nearing completion. March Town Council has now decided which of two competing groups will run it. Picture; HARRY RUTTER

The decision was announced today (Monday) by the town council who said the decision "was not taken lightly".

But a council statement said it was "it was a unanimous decision by councillors that they believed that the football club was most suited to acting in the best interests of the whole community and taking the project forward".

It was also the unanimous decision of the independent directors of Estover Playing Field 2015 CIC, said the statement.

In January the town council revealed the two organisations competing to take on Estover.

The new Estover playing field in March. Picture: HARRY RUTTERThe new Estover playing field in March. Picture: HARRY RUTTER

"Without doubt both parties have things to commend them," concluded 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."

The council had been in talks with March Academy for two years and formed themselves into a charity, one of the requirements of the freeholder, Cambs County Council.

Having now opted for the football club, the town council says that new directors will be appointed to Estover Playing Field 2015 CIC. The current directors will then stand down and Estover Playing Field 2015 CIC will be re-named to highlight the recognised change of structure.

The town council statement confirmed that "March Town United FC has categorically stated that March Academy is welcome to continue using the site and, as such, there is no chance whatsoever of March Academy becoming homeless.

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"March Town United FC has also stated that it hopes that all clubs can work together in harmony and will be inviting March's sporting clubs to an open meeting in the near future to ascertain how best they can all move forward."

The decision rocked March Academy who released details of their failed bid ahead of the council statement.

"Despite the immense efforts, time and commitment from March Academy FC CIO over the past five years, it is with the heaviest of hearts that we have to announce that we have been informed of the shocking decision that we would not be granted the full lease or sub-lease for the Estover site as previously stated," said their spokesman.

"The site that has been the club's home ground for the previous five seasons and means that the 21 youth teams and two senior teams will no longer have a permanent and guaranteed place to play or call home that has been so desperately needed."

The spokesman said: "We are extremely disappointed by this outcome and have no understanding or have been given any explanation why the site has now been awarded to another organisation that put in a last- minute proposal.

"This is especially disappointing as March Academy FC have fully supported the project from the out-set and responded to the pleas for clubs and teams to help save and use the playing field.

"Valuable time, effort and financial support have been given over the last few years and March Academy FC has solely used the facility despite the community facility being open and available to all."

March Academy says players, parents, families, volunteers and other local charitable organisations "will all be so hugely affected and saddened by this news".

"For all those involved in our club please be assured that we will continue efforts to provide facilities and future arrangements and hope that, for the foreseeable future, football fixtures, training sessions and all bookings will go ahead as originally planned," said the statement.

The academy said a club, charity, trustees, sponsors and community meeting will be announced shortly where details of our next course of action and future plans will be announced.

"In the meantime, it's business as usual," their statement concluded.

"Our paramount goal is to continue to provide quality coaching and football provision for all in the local community in a safe and happy environment." They thanked everyone who had worked 'endless hours' developing the site.

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


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