Red card threat to Dunmow's new football pitches

PUBLISHED: 09:14 30 July 2009 | UPDATED: 07:18 30 May 2010

A NEW football ground project in Dunmow is in threat of being kicked to the sidelines after losing critical funding from the Football Association s Foundation Trust. Construction of up to nine new pitches, a pavilion with a juice bar and changing faciliti

A NEW football ground project in Dunmow is in threat of being kicked to the sidelines after losing critical funding from the Football Association's Foundation Trust.

Construction of up to nine new pitches, a pavilion with a juice bar and changing facilities was being planned for land currently owned by Dunmow Hockey Club, just off The Broadway.

Dunmow Town Council had offered to purchase the grassy fields and lease it to Dunmow Rhodes Football Club, but after a year of negotiations the project has stalled.

Gwynn Davies, downs and commons committee chairman, said: "The FA foundation is gradually reducing grants across the country. Only 18 months ago maximum grants of around £1milllion were on offer. That was reduced by 75 per cent, then again by 50 per cent.

"We have now been told that funding is only available for well advanced projects. Ours is not sufficiently advanced enough."

The project has been met with objections from residents living next to the site who are angry about being excluded from early talks. They are also very concerned over dangerous road access and parking issues on match days.

But, during a huge majority vote in favour at the annual town meeting held in March, the project received hundreds of voices of support.

Remaining upbeat, Dunmow Rhodes FC chairman, Russ Alexander, told the Broadcast: "Football foundation funding is currently suspended for all such projects. However, there are many other funding sources and we remain committed to the Broadway project. Progress is slower than we would all like, but things are moving along."

However, Dunmow town councillor, Frank Silver, is worried that the project could be lost altogether. He said: "Things are moving too slow on it. We have been dragging our heels for a while now and the football club need to take the lead and move things forward."

For now the club is still using the recreation ground pitches, something that Cllr Davies is keen to avoid. "Games keep getting cancelled because the pitches cannot take the amount of games being played on them during the season," he said. "This means that players could go elsewhere. Dunmow Rhodes is an ambitious club and would like to move up in the football world.

"But they have to drive the project forward, the town council will of course back them in any way we can.

"We need a formal plan to attract a grant but we must go forward, because the town needs this new facility.

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