Fox defends council’s handling of old ground

McCain Stadium demolition update. The away stand, being dismantled by Featherstone Rovers., looking over to the main stand and clubhouse. Pictures by Andrew Higgins  113847e   22/09/11

McCain Stadium demolition update. The away stand, being dismantled by Featherstone Rovers., looking over to the main stand and clubhouse. Pictures by Andrew Higgins 113847e 22/09/11

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SCARBOROUGH Borough Council leader Cllr Tom Fox has hit back at claims that the authority are to blame for the demise of the old Athletic Ground, which is currently being demolished.

The Seamer Road-based stadium is currently in its second week of demolition, which will leave the town without a recognised football ground.

Since the demise of Scarborough FC in 2006, blame has been passed around the town as to why the stadium has gone into wrack and ruin.

But Fox (pictured right) has moved swiftly to explain that Scarborough FC’s spiritual home was already in a sorry state of disrepair when the council finally bought it from the club’s liquidator in 2008.

He said: “When the club went into receivership, due to how it had been managed in the past, the outcome was that the liquidator took control of the ground and after a short period they sought to dispose of it.

“An agreement was put in place many years ago, when the Athletic Ground was bought by the club from the council, that the council had first refusal on the ground.

“The council did exercise its right to buy the ground by making an offer. The liquidator was looking to use this to recoup the full value of the debt owed, but that didn’t reflect the value of the ground.

“This started a period of independent arbitration between the council and the liquidator for a value to be put on the ground. The liquidator moved at its own pace so this took over a year.

“During that time the ground fell into disrepair, being constantly vandalised.

“When the Athletic Ground was finally purchased the council made an assessment of whether it would be best to bring the ground back up to scratch or look at something new.

“It soon became very clear that having a stadium of that size, which would only be used every fortnight would not be sustainable.

“A stadium of the size of the Athletic Ground would be more of a hindrance than a help to football in the town.

“Because of that we had to look at new facilities and that led us to the Weaponness Sports Village.”

Fox also backed the council’s decision not to originally lift the covenant on the old ground in 2006, at which time Scarborough FC were aiming to switch to a new base in Eastfield.

Fox added: “I still believe that if the council had lifted the covenant and let the club remortgage itself there would have been no football ground in Scarborough, now or in the future.”