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Story posted: Friday, 24th February 2023

Club Statement
In our latest fan’s forum, I provided an update to those in attendance on the status of the planning application for our proposed new stadium which was submitted to the local authorities on February 7th 2022...more
Back in June 2022 we announced that the land in question had been formally purchased by Peter Robinson, our Vice Chairman, under his company, Gresley Developments Limited from the South Derbyshire District Council. This was seen at the time seen as a huge and significant step forward for the clubs hopes of finally moving to a new stadium after three decades of trying, subject to planning approvals.

Over the last couple of years Pete has invested hundreds of thousands of pounds of his own money to try and help the club realise the long-awaited dream of a move. He’s invested through buying the Moat Ground back from previous owners, buying the proposed land we are trying to move to and financing all of the required surveys, assessments and reports required to move us forwards with our planning application.

I want to place on record my personal gratitude to Pete.
As a club everyone involved is extremely grateful for what he has done to try and finally make this move finally happen for us. Unfortunately, and despite Pete’s tireless efforts and financial commitment to the cause over the last couple of years we are still a way from getting where we want to be.

At a previous fan’s forum in August of last year we indicated that subject to the relevant planning permissions being attained we hoped that this season would be our very last season at the Moat Ground after 113 seasons.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, it was pretty evident some months back that we would not be moving for the 2023/24 season and in-fact as of today our application has still yet to move forward to planning committee stage for decision due to a variety of complex and, frustratingly in some cases, very basic reasons.

We have been gradually working through those issues with local planning teams from SDDC and NWLDC but in my own personal view since being involved in the detail of the project we seem to have struggled with a shortage of the required support, guidance and collaboration from more senior stakeholders within the local authorities that most definitely would help move things forwards more quickly.

I won’t go into the specifics in this statement as to what the current blockers and barriers are as they are very detailed and complex. This information was covered at length in the fans forum for those that were able to attend so if you are interested in finding out more, please speak to someone who attended. I’m also happy and I’m sure the same will apply to any of our board members to update any supporter in person at any upcoming game or social event.
At this stage, we won’t be publicly sharing any specific details.

Essentially, our planning application project has reached point where we have this week made a request to discuss the situation with not only the Council's Planning Officers but also Senior Council leadership to establish whether the viability of the project can be moved forward due to the complexities and challenges that have recently arisen.

We await response to that request for a meeting and will of course update supporters on where we are in our next forum which will be planned at the end of the season.
From my own personal perspective having been involved with the club in numerous roles for the last 25 years I share below my own personal views and perceptions which I know many of our supporters will echo.

Gresley Rovers FC has been an integral part of the local community for over 140 years now and for the last 113 seasons located in our current Moat Ground home.
For over 30 years we have been trying to work with the local authorities to move elsewhere in the locality so we can continue to grow and thrive as part of our ever growing and prosperous community.

Our current Moat Ground stadium has served us well over the years but is well past its best and literally falling to bits, and has been doing so for many years now. This is why this move has been desperately needed for some time.
Through its significant achievements on the pitch (Wembley FA Vase final in 91, winning the Southern league to earn promotion to the Conference in 97 etc) this football club helped to put the small mining village of Church Gresley, the town of Swadlincote and the district of South Derbyshire on the UK Map.

Back in those times anecdotes from many supporters and those involved at the club suggest local council members rightly reveled in that recognition and indeed the national focus that the club’s success brought to the area. However, since that time, and despite the club being a huge and integral part of the local community the support received from the local authorities when we have really needed it has been well short of what everyone connected with our club over the years expected.

Over the last decade that I’ve been involved on the board of directors of the club, and of course significantly beyond that time, various previous regimes of club officials have made numerous attempts to move grounds and failed despite countless meetings and hours of dialogue with the local council members and senior leaders trying to gain support and backing for a move.

Since I became Chairman several months ago the most common question I get asked by our supporters in relation to our proposed move is around “what exactly the local council is doing to support our move” and its honestly a question I struggle to answer. Have our local councilors done enough to support us over the years and more recently? I will let our supporters decide on that for themselves.

We have an amazing community-based proposal which will provide huge benefit for thousands of people of all ages for years to come and yet since putting in our latest application over a year ago have received very little support from local authority and senior council stakeholders in navigating the countless issues and barriers to even get our planning application to committee for a decision.

Over recent months I’ve spoken to numerous officials from other clubs at our level and indeed below who have been successful in moving to new community-based stadiums in recent years. The consistent feedback theme from those clubs is that the support and backing they received from their local authorities was huge and the move wouldn’t have been possible without that support, partnership and collaboration. I’m really keen that we get a similar level of support and collaboration from our local authorities going forward and will work towards that aim in the coming months.

As a result of the above news, the timescales are unclear as to when the club will be in a position to move forward in its 30+ year quest of moving forwards into a new stadium.
The current clubs board of directors and I are extremely frustrated to have to communicate this disappointing news to our supporters after previous hopeful and very promising updates in recent months.

I appreciate that this seems like Deja vu but rest assured that the current Board of Directors and I will be doing all we can to resolve the current issues and barriers standing in our way and given recent developments (or lack of them) we have started to look at other options to assess viability. We will not let this latest setback dampen our resolve to do what’s needed to move the club forward.
I know there will be those who have always been in the "this will never happen" camp saying “I told you so” but this makes us even more determined than ever to deliver on our long-awaited dream.

Whatever our future holds in relation to a move, or even a redevelopment of the Moat Ground. (which is an option that was considered as a possibility many years back) we will need much more support from our local authority than we have been getting and to that end we have requested a meeting with Council leaders to try and discuss how we move forward and get the support, backing and help of them we need to enable this significant community benefiting project to finally come to fruition.

Let’s see what develops.

Thanks for reading.

Gary Norton
Chairman, Gresley Rovers FC.
Gresley Rovers Partners
RA Chinnery
Forthcoming Fixtures
Coleshill Town
Sat, 9th Dec 2023, 3.00pm (Home)
Hinckley LRFC
Tue, 12th Dec 2023, 7.45pm (Home)
Coventry Sphinx
Sat, 16th Dec 2023, 3.00pm (Away)
Ilkeston Town
Derbyshire Senior Cup 3rd Round
Tue, 19th Dec 2023, 7.45pm (Home)
Sutton Coldfield Town Action
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