For sale: one football ground

Pete Whitehead is selling the lease for Sandy Lane, and Jason Clark sees it as the ideal home for Worksop Town.

Windsor Food Stadium, Sandy Lane.  Worksop Town FC  (w120711-1a)
Windsor Food Stadium, Sandy Lane. Worksop Town FC (w120711-1a)

But it remains to be seen whether Clark and Worksop Town can reach an agreement with the P&M Leisure supremo to acquire the lease.

Whitehead, owner of Parramore FC, confirmed to the Guardian this week that the lease was up for sale as he plots a return to Sheffield for his club.

Although he is unable to say when Parras will move back to South Yorkshire, he did reveal that Worksop Town are his preferred bidder for Sandy Lane.

The ground at Sandy Lane, Worksop, is almost complete and ready for the 2011/2012 season (w110704-1e)

“It is my intention to do the very best for Worksop Town as I have already done,” he said.

“I would like to sell the lease to Worksop Town, or the fans of Worksop Town or the council.”

“If the council bought the ground and leased it back to Jason Clark that would be an option.”

“Everything is in Jason’s hands.”

The council, however, insist that they are unable to justify the expense to the tax payer, in buying a lease for a ground they already own the freehold to.

Clark admitted that with the Vesuvius development delayed by yet another inquiry, Sandy Lane was the best hope to safeguard Worksop Town’s future.

And he won’t stay in charge of a club without a permanent base.

“The football club does not have control over the ground situation, and is therefore not a master of its own destiny,” he said.

“My long term intention was always to build something sustainable. Having our own ground is fundamental to that.”

“If that is not achievable then it is certain I will leave Worksop Town.”

Clark, UK CEO of IT company Proact, revealed that he and Whitehead had agreed to meet to discuss the Sandy Lane situation, and vowed to do everything in his power to secure it as a home for Tigers.

But he added: “I deem this (Sandy Lane) to be the only short, and probably medium term option that is viable, if the club is to move forward at all.”

“One thing is for sure, to move out of the town would be a significant blow, but if a deal cannot be struck that suits all parties, then there is a fall-back option in place.”

“If there is a way that Worksop can remain at Sandy Lane, then I will do everything I can to make this happen.”

“I agree that the ideal scenario is for the council to purchase the lease and then structure a new lease with the club.”

“During the meetings I had with the council representatives, I was told this was not an option, though I have never seen that formally declared.”

Clark is keen to make some progress on the ground front, with Tigers performing well on the pitch and eyeing a promotion bid to reach the Conference North.

The club owner said: ““Given how well the club is doing on the pitch, it’s extremely important that off-field concerns do not have an impact on what is the best start to a season we have had for many many years.”

Should he be unable to secure a permanent home for the club, and in turn announce his departure, then it would be nigh on impossible for Tigers to continue at their current level of football without another substantial financial backer.

Any drop in standard would be accompanied by a fall in attendances, and it’s not unreasonable to assume the club’s rich history would be under threat.