Bury St Edmunds: Suffolk FA withdraw £250k funding from Bury Town FC move to Moreton Hall

Plans for a �2.5 million football facility in Moreton Hall

Plans for a �2.5 million football facility in Moreton Hall - Credit: Archant

Suffolk FA have dealt a “blow” to plans to move the home of Bury Town FC to a state-of-the-art facility in Moreton Hall, after withdrawing £250,000 of funding.

Laura Smith Suffolk FA CEO

Laura Smith Suffolk FA CEO

However, the club are positive that this will not derail the move, which is also supported by St Edmundsbury Borough Council who yesterday described the news as “disappointing”.

Suffolk FA had originally committed, in June 2012, to paying for and operating an artificial 3G pitch at the site along with coaching and player development facilities, as part of the Bury St Edmunds Community Football Project.

Concerns following the intention to build a new secondary school on the same site prompted the FA to rethink, believing that football was not being prioritised.

The project is funded by Football Foundation, Football Stadia Improvement Fund and St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

Russell Ward, BTFC Chairman

Russell Ward, BTFC Chairman - Credit: Archant

Suffolk FA chief executive Laura Smith said: “The board of directors, following much deliberation, has decided against investing in the project.

“Following the tender process last year it became obvious that the cost of the project had increased significantly.

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“Earlier this month the board of directors decided that the new project was not the best use of our members’ money for a number of reasons and will therefore not be investing. This decision was not reached lightly.

“I personally feel that money generated through football, should be invested back into football, and that football must be the priority.

“I was concerned that through working with a brand new school who may or may not value sport, in particular football, our project may not have the profile and recognition it should have within the town.”

Ms Smith did not rule out any future project in the borough, saying a stand alone site would be better suited.

Russell Ward, chairman of Bury Town FC, who are currently sited at Ram Meadow, admitted that the decision was a “blow” to the project.

“Our current building, built 36, 38 years ago, was always meant to be a temporary building, so we do need a new site,” he said.

“It is a blow, a set back, but I am sure that the council and the club can work together to still make it happen.”

“We were concerned that we might end up becoming just tenants of the Suffolk FA. Without their involvement we will be able to have much more control over the project and the site once we are there.

“It is not news to us, we have been discussing with the council for some weeks on how to go forward. This decision essentially may end up giving us more control.”

Cllr Sarah Stamp, St Edmundsbury Borough Council Cabinet member for Leisure, Culture and Heritage said: “While we are disappointed in the decision reached by the Suffolk FA, we will work with our partners to deliver excellent community sports facilities for the people of Moreton Hall.”

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