A View From The Drain: There Are More Questions Than Answers
So here we are, after Brexit comes Bexit. Yes, the exit from 'The Bank'. It raised its head at the recent fans forum. The forum itself was bizarre. It moved between Monty Python and a sitcom around wedding speeches. The main subject that brought up a certain disagreement was whether or not we should actually build a new stadium, or in fact go for a COOP Mark II.
There have been passionate arguments on why we should leave, and some very reminiscent of a certain Mr N Farage. In fact two people I sat next to, put mocking scorn in a very patronising way on a perfectly reasonable point of view, of why we should remain. I am undecided, and I am not going to look at the reasons why we should remain or leave, but on the reality of the situation.
Liam Scully mentioned the pressure of the utilities, particularly the water situation. Yes, we have quadrupled our attendances overnight, so to speak, however we need to realise that this is a bubble. Gosh I would love this bubble to last many years, however sport doesn't always work that way. If I were to take a cold realistic viewpoint, I can say the following.
We are a lower league football team. Our history hasn't been fantastic, and we have had far more years of underachieving than not. In fact I would safely approximate that out of our 133 year history, we have had approximately 110 of them under achieving, and worse, being average or below. It is not nice to say that and it pains me to say it. The positive around this, is that hopefully things are on the up. The cynics will think the bubble will burst sooner rather than later and we will be back to crowds of 3500.
So when we look at the water pressure, that is the same at International Cricket Venues, post lunch. I have experienced it at Old Trafford, Edgebaston, Trent Bridge and Lords, so a move to a new venue is not likely to change this. The argument about evacuation is another one, that every other ground experiences too. It is not exclusive to us.
At the moment, we have temporarily out grown Sincil Bank, but for how long we don't know. Do not forget the economic future with Brexit is very uncertain and we do not know how it will affect one and all, particularly the construction industry, inflation and interest rates. How will this affect supporters' ability to attend matches in the future. It is an unknown unknown, and one thing to put into the back pocket.
We then come to the controversial Western Growth Corridor, I could spend a whole Geography PhD thesis on this subject, so I will condense it as much as possible. The area has two main issues, it has two major obstacles on the site. A flood plain and a former waste site. This has been so problematic that a major developer pulled out in 2016. The cost to raise the level of the land by a metre and to clean the area of methane, built up by waste, is colossal. It would also not guarantee the area would be immune from flooding. Never build near or on a flood plain, was the instruction I received in my Geography lessons. Then there is the road infrastructure, nothing around roads happens quickly in Lincolnshire, just look at the farce of the Eastern Bypass, which I will come back to shortly.
The Western Growth Corridor seems somewhat of a redevelopment of the Farlington Marshes in Portsmouth. Ok, so we don't have Brent Geese in the winter, but this issue has plagued Portsmouth FC and Portsmouth City Council since circa 1990.
Moving on to the cost. Doncaster's new stadium cost £20 million pounds. We have just splashed out on a new training ground complex which is approximately £1 million. This eats into our cash reserves. I am certain, however, that there must be some commercial revenue activities that can be included in this, such as abilities for conferencing. If not immediately, then something to tide us over to recoup the costs in the future. It is no doubt that the income generated commercially at Doncaster has been vital to them, and would be for us.
Yet, it is that initial outlay of costs. This would involve a significant financial deal, and we must be careful of entering a club equivalent of a PFI. That would be disastrous. That is where the shareholders come into play, by not letting the board getting carried away. I am not suggesting for one iota that they would, but people do get in that habit of seeing a nice artist's impression and that can often lead people to increase the amount on the never, never. It is fraught with fiscal catastrophe, if not thought through coldly.
Back to the Eastern Bypass, if I may. There is no doubt many plans to build in this area. Apart from Washingborough, no area is on a flood plain. The soil is generally good, and there will be access to many. To my knowledge there are no old waste areas full of landfill, and also a trainline goes out that way too. The area will be served by a bypass, and to me, it makes far more sense to develop this area, than the huge cost of the Western Growth Corridor. The amount of pre-construction work to develop the area would be less, as there would be fewer environmental issues and generally it seems more achievable than a project that has an estimated finish date of 2034.
This is a subject that will no doubt run and run. We need to move to make more revenue to survive and compete. We need better transport access. We need something to take us into the 22nd century. Do we have this at Sincil Bank? Sadly we don't. I am not against moving, I am not against a new ground. I am against its current location. I don't live in that area, so it is not NIBYM-ism. For me It's too much of an environmental challenge.
Where on earth do I imagine our new ground be then? Well, there are still more questions than answers. the location? Well, I have pictures in my mind, that will not show.
You can discuss this article on 100% Imps.
A View From The Drain: Just Another Stunt - Part One
A View From The Drain: The 7 P's - Part Two
A View From The Drain - Much Ado About Nothing