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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Council Madness at LeighGenesis

Whilst LeighRMI may be a long way from Hereford United in footballing terms these days, it's not long ago when the two clubs met in the Conference.

Recently LeighRMI renamed itself LeighGenesis and were hoping to move into a new stadium some weeks ago. But firstly disputes and secondly proposed increased costs have driven Chairman Dominic Speakman to resign.

In an article on the Leigh website he says why he has taken this decision. In many ways it's a warning to other clubs that council bureaucracy can cause a club severe financial problems.

It is with deep regret that I am announcing that as of today I will be stepping down as chairman and will no longer fund the club going forward.

At the start of the season we were left without a ground as Hilton Park deteriorated and was ultimately condemned the day after Centurions played their last match.

The council and LSV have periodically informed us of delays in the opening date of the stadium, but over the last six weeks there has been hardly any progress on the site due to a standoff between the builders, developers and the council with regards to some finishing issues.

Last week we were told that the earliest chance for our first game would be the 13th December, but there was even some doubt over that.

The final straw came last week when the council and the health and safety advisory committee gave its verdict on stewarding requirements for the ground. We were presented with their proposal to open a quarter of the stadium, which they judged to need 45 stewards of varying degrees of seniority, costing £3,000 per match, including 5 people to run the control room!!!

All this for a match where there may only be 250 spectators!! Bearing in mind the stewarding costs at Hilton park were under £200 per match. Similarly the cost of meals for players, of which we are bound by the league to provide 40 per match, will rise in cost from £2per player to £7.50per player at LSV.

Unfortunately the people involved in running the stadium appear to have no appreciation of the running costs of a club of this type and are gearing the stadium up with a cost base similar to a Premier League club, then trying to pass the costs onto the clubs.

The sorry situation at Leigh highlights a real problem that might face other clubs such as Hereford United. 'Outside' costs can be so high as to question the whole future of a club.

The on-going dispute at Edgar Street with West Mercia Police is an example.

If the Police get away with their demand for £15,000 for policing the Swindon game what next?