Time runs out for Wroxham FC
STEVE DOWNES One of Norfolk's top football teams could be driven to extinction or forced to move to a nearby town or village to survive. Wroxham FC, which won the then Jewson League six times out of eight in the 1990s, is trying to find a new home in the village as time runs out on the lease of its current ground at Trafford Park.
One of Norfolk's top football teams could be driven to extinction or forced to move to a nearby town or village to survive.
Wroxham FC, which won the then Jewson League six times out of eight in the 1990s, is trying to find a new home in the village as time runs out on the lease of its current ground at Trafford Park.
But, with a government planning inspector vetoing a move to Salhouse Road in Wroxham, there is no development land available.
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So, in a situation reminiscent of Wimbledon FC's move from South London to Milton Keynes, 13 new sites are being looked into - some miles away from Wroxham.
Broadland District Council is seeking local comments on three sites in Aylsham, two in Brundall and others in Sprowston, Spixworth, Hellesdon, Blofield, Old Catton and Hoveton.
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The issue will come to a head today, when Broadland's Cabinet decides whether to support the inspector by removing Salhouse Road as a potential site for development in its Local Plan.
The plan initially earmarked Trafford Park for redevelopment, allowing Wroxham FC to move to a new ground at Salhouse Road, where the scheme would also include a community centre and housing.
An added twist is that Wroxham FC has to comply with stringent ground standards imposed by the Football Association from the start of the 2007-8 season - or face possible demotion from the Ridgeons League and expulsion from cup competitions.
Club officials are not keen to carry out the work at Trafford Park because the lease runs out in 2013.
A host of submissions has been made to Cabinet, including pleas from the Ridgeons Football League (formerly the Jewson League), Norfolk County FA and Wroxham FC to allow the move to Salhouse Road.
The Ridgeons Football League said: “In order to qualify to remain at their present level within our league, Wroxham FC would need to make improvements to their ground or face possible expulsion.
“The continuing uncertainty over their long-term ground position makes it virtually impossible for them to comply with these within the timescale, thereby jeopardising their future with us and possibly depriving the area of a club at this level, which has brought success and pleasure to the local region.”
The Norfolk County Football Association said: “Wroxham FC are one of the most senior and successful clubs in Norfolk, and without a new, modern facility I would suggest that the club will fold within the next five years.”
Wroxham FC officials did not want to comment before the meeting, but the club's official response is in the Cabinet papers.
It said: “The inspector has dodged the issue and left the club back at square one. Salhouse Road is the only viable site in Wroxham.
“I understand the possibility of ground sharing, but that would be commercial suicide for the club.”