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Make Some Noise
Make Some Noise

Trust calls for community to help protect City's survival

York City Supporters Trust is calling on the people of the York to act to help protect the future of York City Football Club.

Trust Chairman Richard Snowball called for action:
We urge the people of York to write to the Council to support the continuance of football at Bootham Crescent until a better stadium is in place.

Snowball explained the Trusts concerns should landlords Bootham Crescent Holdings and developers Persimmon get their way:
If the Club is evicted before a better stadium is in place, we risk losing a leisure and community facility of regional importance.


If the Club was to be ousted from Bootham Crescent before an alternative superior stadium in terms of capacity, facilities and location - is in place, this would be detrimental to the sustainability of the Club and would increase the risk of the Clubs demise.


Over the past few weeks and months, the Supporters Trust has continued to try and provide information to supporters and the community on this very important issue. In the absence of assurances and clarity about the future of the Club and Bootham Crescent, the Trust has now taken a necessary further step, by actively encouraging people to take the time to write a letter of objection to the planning application lodged at City of York Council.

It will be of benefit to everyone for the veil of secrecy to be lifted. Greater openness and transparency will help avoid misunderstanding or suspicion of inappropriate motives.

Via its website (www.ycst.org.uk ) and newsletters, the Trust is providing advice to an army of City fans on the basis for their objections to Persimmons planning application to build housing on the Bootham Crescent home of York City. Anyone is able to comment in writing to City of York Council.

In summary, the basis for any letter of objection could include reference to:
- No change of use should be allowed for the Bootham Crescent site unless and until a better facility is in place for York City Football Club to play its home games.
- Under planning guidelines, the planning committee should protect the continuance of Bootham Crescent as a community and leisure facility of regional importance by rejecting Persimmons proposals;
- There is not yet an acceptable alternative site available;
- There are a number of assertions in Persimmons application that are incorrect and/or unclear;
- Because the Club no longer owns Bootham Crescent, the development of the ground for housing will not assist the Club to relocate to another site (i.e. the proceeds of the sale of the site will be going to BCH, not the Club);
- Concerns regarding Persimmons reference for the Club to vacate by the end of the 2002/03 season.


Trust Chairman Richard Snowball added
The Supporters Trust will continue to work positively, with all parties, to ensure that the Club continues to have a decent home in the city for the benefit of the whole community.

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About the letter of objection submitted by York City Supporters Trust

You may have seen from our recent newsletters and press releases that the Trust has written to City of York Council about the proposed development of Bootham Crescent.

The Trust has done this because this issue is a crucial one for the future of York City Football Club. If the planning application for Bootham Crescent is granted by the Council it will put Persimmon Homes and Bootham Crescent Holdings in a strong position to pursue their stated intent of turning the site over to housing . It will be principally up to them, as the sites developers and owners, to decide when to do this. If they decide to do so before the new stadium John Batchelor has spoken of is a reality, then the future of professional League football in the City will again be in doubt.

The Trust believes that there are strong grounds to refuse this application. The Trust will continue to represent City fans and put our case, but it is also important that, if you feel strongly about the future of York City, you let York Council know your views on the application. City fans need to leave the Council in no doubt that Bootham Crescent and the future of York City Football Club is an important issue and that assuring its future is vital for the sporting, leisure and community life of the City. Everyone who tells the Council this will help strengthen that message.

You can do this by writing to the Council. Your letter can say anything you think is important about the proposed development, but you may want to point out some of the matters we have noted below in the Advice section to this newsletter. Anyone can write to comment/object. It is not restricted to those residents in the closer vicinity of the ground.

In making its decision, the authorities have to consider local and national planning guidelines.

The Trusts objections to the plan to oust the Club from its historic home are, in part, based on the draft Local Plan (and revisions thereto). The Local Plan promotes a sustainable strategy for York which is vital for the citys future development. Clearly, maintaining a professional football club will help to protect the status of the city and will strengthen its community. The Club is an asset to the city and the county and must not be lost.

If the Club was to be ousted from Bootham Crescent before an alternative superior stadium in terms of capacity, facilities and location - is in place, this would be detrimental to the sustainability of the Club and would increase the risk of the Clubs demise.

Certain policies in the draft Local Plan, in effect, refer to the protection of leisure, social and community facilities. That is, before an existing site (such as Bootham Crescent) can be developed for some other purpose, it must be proved that either the facilities are no longer required or that alternative acceptable facilities are available.

The draft Local Plan is available for reading on line via www.york.gov.uk/environment/york/localplan/index.html . References of interest in the Draft Local Plan include Policy C3 (Change Of Use Of Community Facilities) and Chapter 11 (Leisure and Recreation). Policy L1b (Loss of Local Leisure Facilities) of the First Set of Pre-Inquiry Changes is also instructive.

Bootham Crescent is a sporting, leisure and community facility of regional importance. The Club should not be forced to move unless and until a better stadium is in place.

In their letter to the Planning Office dated 16 October 2002, the Trust also note that there are a number of assertions in Persimmons application that are incorrect. One of these is the statement that in order to provide certainty that the proposed relocation can be achieved the Football Club need to establish that the existing site can be redeveloped for residential purposes prior to their vacation of the ground at the end of the 2002/03 season. This statement is incorrect. Following the transfer of ownership of Bootham Crescent from the Club to Bootham Crescent Holdings plc in 1999, the Club no longer owns Bootham Crescent. Therefore, the development of the ground for housing will not assist it in any way to relocate to another site.


It is also concerning that the application refers to vacation of the ground by the end of the 2002/03 season. The Club has no alternative stadium to play its home games and such action would be detrimental to the sustainability of the Club and would increase the risk of the Clubs demise. Whilst John Batchelor has made assurances that the Club will not have to vacate Bootham Crescent at the end of the current season, many supporters remain unclear and concerned that no such assurances have been forthcoming from Douglas Craig or Persimmon.


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Advice on writing a letter to the Council regarding the planning application to oust the Club from Bootham Crescent

We encourage all supporters/members of the community to consider the matter carefully and to prepare their own comments accordingly. Your letter can say anything you think is important about the proposed development, but you may want to point out some of the matters described below.

If you wish to inspect the plans to build housing on the Bootham Crescent site, these can be viewed at 9 St Leonards Place, York between 8.30am and 5.00pm on Mondays to Fridays. An officer will be available to help you if you have any questions about the proposal. An extract of the planning application is also available via the Trusts website (www.ycst.org.uk). If you have any queries in relation to this matter, please do not hesitate to contact any Trust Board member, or write to our mailing address (c/o York City Football Club, Bootham Crescent, York, YO30 7AQ) or email enquiries@ycst.org.uk



[Address]
The Director, Environmental and Development Services,
City of York Council
9 St Leonards Place
York YO1 7ET

[Date]

Re. Proposed residential development of the home ground of York City Football Club


No change of use should be allowed for the Bootham Crescent site unless and until a better facility is in place for York City Football Club to play its home games. It is important that the proposed housing development should not put York Citys future at risk.

Bootham Crescent is a leisure facility of regional importance. York City Football Club is North Yorkshires only Football League club and Bootham Crescent is the only stadium which meets its needs.

Bootham Crescent is also a community facility of regional importance. York City Football Club is an important part of community life in York, both directly and through its work with youth and womens football. Having a professional Football League club in York has positive benefits for the status of the City.

The stadium at Bootham Crescent meets the standards required of the Football League and is in an excellent position for such an important local facility. It is near the city centre, has good access by public transport and brings positive benefits to local businesses.



Yours faithfully

[name]



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Background information a brief reminder about how the current situation has arisen

In 1999 the ownership of Bootham Crescent was transferred from York City Football Club to a new holding company (i.e. Bootham Crescent Holdings). The transfer of ownership from the Club to the holding company had been at a value far less than the market value now being suggested for the freehold. This restructuring circumvented certain FA rules that are supposed to protect football grounds as community assets.

This restructuring provided the basis for the directors of BCH to carry out their plans to profit from the sale of Bootham Crescent at the expense of the Club, its supporters and the community. The actions of the directors have been widely condemned and continue to be investigated by the Independent Football Commission.

Whilst the Supporters Trust will continue to lobby the Football Association to take action, the main focus of attention should now be the arrangements between Bootham Crescent Holdings and Persimmon, who are proposing to oust the Club from its home at some point in the future.

York Citys home ground is now owned by Bootham Crescent Holdings. BCH is largely owned by Douglas Craig, John Quickfall, Barry Swallow, Colin Webb and Persimmon who between them own approximately 93% of the company.

Since April 2002, York City Football Club has been owned by John Batchelor. The Club has some form of agreement (a landlord-tenant type arrangement) with BCH to play its home games at Bootham Crescent. The terms of the agreement between the Club and BCH are not known. If BCH was to request the Club to vacate Bootham Crescent, it is not known what length of notice period would be given to the Club to try and find a new ground. At this stage, the Club has not announced either an alternative site or how a new stadium would be funded.

It has been reported that Persimmon have a conditional contract with BCH to buy Bootham Crescent subject to planning permission and vacant possession. Within the last couple of months, Persimmon has made a planning application that could lead to the ousting of the Club from its historic home.

If the Club was to be kicked out of Bootham Crescent before an alternative superior stadium in terms of capacity, facilities and location - is in place, this would be detrimental to the sustainability of the Club and would increase the risk of the Clubs demise.

In January 2002, the directors of BCH originally demanded 4.5 million for parties looking to acquire BCH. In April 2002, John Batchelor did not buy BCH or the ownership of Bootham Crescent. He only acquired York City Football Club. The proceeds from the value of Bootham Crescent that go into the pockets of a few individuals is at the expense of the Club, its supporters and the community. If York City Football Club is to have a new superior stadium, those proceeds would go a long way towards enabling the development to be funded.

Earlier this month it was reported that Messrs Craig, Quickfall, Swallow and Webb have already received consideration - perhaps in the region of 350,000 to 450,000 between them for the sale of some of their BCH shares to Persimmon.

 
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