We have not been able to be too detailed about the move up until now because the Ryman League only met last week to ratify the proposal and we did not want to pre-judge their decision.
Whilst the move to Ashford was one that I initially agreed with it soon became obvious to me that the distance and the location of Homelands meant that playing on the outskirts of Ashford could never work. The facilities at Ashford were an improvement on Bourne Park but its location, so far away from the town, has asked too much of the club and its loyal supporters. Whatever happens in the future another season at Homelands would have meant that the attendances would have dropped even further.
We looked at Chatham and Sittingbourne and would have liked to re-locate to Chatham but the ground would require a great deal of money spent on it to bring it up to the grading required for Ryman Premier. I have been assuming that Maidstone United will not get relegated as it is certainly not part of my business plan!
We then went back to Andy Spice at Sittingbourne and he was prepare to offer a very competetive rent as he was keen to get the Stones supporters back to his club house. The hoped income from bar and food sales at Ashford never materialised so to let our landlords at Sittingbourne have these takings is no loss to us. I also feel that because of the much closer proximity of Bourne Park we might, if we start to win some matches, add 50/100 to the gate.
Bill and I have completed our presentations to local businesses and the next couple of weeks will determine whether this route will enable us raise the funding for the stadium. We are looking at all options regarding the fundraising and whilst a number of the responses are positive it has become clear that, in the current economic climate, raising £1.6m will be a lot to ask.