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Farnborough purchase Quaker's old stand

Mon 18th Apr 2011 | Football Stadiums & Facilities

Farnborough Football Club’s chairman, Simon Hollis, has confirmed that he has agreed in principle to purchase the East Stand from Darlington FC’s old ground, Feethams.

If the deal goes through, the stand, which is currently dismantled and in storage, should be delivered this summer.

“I believe Woking, Crawley Town, Oxford United, Falkirk, Worksop Town and Sligo Rovers were among the other clubs interested,” said Hollis, who has paid a holding deposit to secure the stand, and is now in discussions with Rushmoor Borough Council planning department.

The club plan to submit a planning application within the next four weeks.

It is understood that Woking were confident that they were in pole position to discuss a deal for the stand.

But Hollis beat them to it, driving up to Darlington a few days ago to agree a provisional deal with the demolition company who took over Feethams.

The 3,000-capacity stand was built in 1998 before the Darlington left Feethams in 2003 to play at the Darlington Arena.

Hollis intends to have the stand erected on the west side of the ground, where the main stand currently lies, incorporating existing facilities and expanding the scope for community usage and revenue away from football. The stand is big enough to stretch along the whole length of the pitch.

Hollis said he has in mind: “Function rooms, aerobic studios, offices, bars, a restaurant, hospitality boxes, study centres and a gym.”

Eyebrows will be raised that Hollis is paying for a new stand — the cost, should the deal go through, is likely to be a six-figure sum — while the PRE Stand lies unfinished, as it has done all season, at the south end of the Rushmoor Stadium. Nor, like most in football, have Farnborough, whose average home attendance is around the 800-mark, been free of the financial constraints, worries and burdens of the current austere times.

But Hollis stressed that getting the PRE finished remains the ‘football’ priority; should they be promoted to the Conference National, they will need to increase their capacity by this time next year.

“Works to the stand have recommenced today with the guard rails and balustrade being installed,” Hollis said on Wednesday. “We are working towards enabling a section of the stand (480 seats) to be available for use for the Woking game.”

As for the benefit of the potential ex-Feethams stand, Hollis said: “Our ground is situated in a densely populated area of the borough, with 12,000 residents within walking distance. We get a huge demand for private hire and meeting rooms. At present we are unable to accommodate local requirements."

A club statement added: "We are committed to ensuring that the stadium is fully utilised as a community venue for local residents." The likely purchase of the Darlington stand is evidence of that.

But football is most Farnborough fans' priority. They would love to see a finished PRE Stand, with Conference National football played in front of it.

(www.nonleaguedaily.com)

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