Bury Town FC still hopeful of leaving unfit Ram Meadow despite plans for £100k clubhouse

Ram Meadow football ground

Ram Meadow football ground - Credit: Gregg Brown

With “nowhere to go” a frustrated Bury Town Football Club is now investing £100,000 in their dilapidated Ram Meadow home, admitting a long-desired move away is out of their hands.

Bury St Edmunds CGI of new Ram Meadow Clubhouse

Bury St Edmunds CGI of new Ram Meadow Clubhouse - Credit: Archant

The fourth-oldest non-league club in the country would have just played their last season at their “not fit for purpose” ground had the multi-million pound plans to move to Moreton Hall not collapsed.

Club chairman Russell Ward admits their fate lies with St Edmundsbury Borough Council, who own Ram Meadow and have identified the site for housing and commercial development.

“It is frustrating for us,” he said. “We don’t own our ground so do not have the freedom to make the move ourselves.”

The club moved to Ram Meadow in the 1970s, selling their Kings Road facilities. Their existing clubhouse was built in 1978 as a temporary building. The borough have not invested in the ground for more than 35 years, according to a council report.

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“For the last ten years we have been spending a lot of money patching it up and keeping it going. It leaks and is not fit for purpose,” said Mr Ward.

“The borough have not identified another site for us – there is nowhere else to go. We don’t know how long we will be here for and the clubhouse needs replacing.”

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The club, with £50,000 of funding raised themselves and £50,000 from St Edmundsbury Borough, have submitted a planning application to tear down the old main building and construct a new clubhouse.

The borough funding is subject to approval at cabinet next week and planning permission. The plans would also see the club sign a five-year lease at a much-increased rate.

Less than two years ago Mr Ward and the club, now in Isthmian League Division One North, were looking forward to moving to a new purpose-built home on Moreton Hall.

The plans grew to become a multi-purpose sports facility, with a Suffolk FA youth development centre and the new secondary school joining the project. After Suffolk FA withdrew £250,000 of funding in October 2014, the plans fell through.

Mr Ward added: “We would have just played our last season at Ram Meadow and right now would be moving up to Moreton Hall in the off season.

“Now we will be here at Ram Meadow for we don’t know how long, it could be two or three years or it could be many more.”

The chairman expressed his frustration at local rivals overtaking them with ever-improving facilities while their ground and progress stagnated.

Ram Meadow is only big enough for one pitch, which is prone to waterlogging, with plans for a 3G or 4G artificial pitch unlikely due to the short term lease. Their are more than 40 youth and senior teams associated with Bury Town, all vying for pitch-time and Mr Ward said youth teams can suffer as a result.

Joanna Rayner, borough cabinet member for leisure, said they are still committed to a move away from Ram Meadow. She said: “We have been working with Bury Town FC, discussing options that will shore up its short term future, boost its income and provide the stability that will help it achieve its ambitions.

“The improved facilities will help the club become even more involved with the local community. They already do a wonderful job but this will go further towards our own aims to encourage people to get more involved in local sport.”

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