BASINGSTOKE Town chairman Rafi Razzak insists that land next to the Hilton Basingstoke hotel is the best place for a new stadium, despite the claims of a borough councillor.
The club are currently working closely with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council on plans to relocate from the Camrose to a new £10million stadium in Eastrop.
Borough councillor Gavin James, whose ward contains the site earmarked for the new ground, has written an open letter to Razzak urging him to rethink his plans.
In his letter, Cllr James describes the proposed move as “a huge financial gamble for both the club and the council,” arguing that the taxpayer could be left to pick up the pieces in the long term.
Cllr James puts forward an alternative site, asking Razzak to investigate moving the club to Basingstoke Leisure Park instead.
However, the Town chairman said that such a move has already been ruled out and insists that the current preferred site is the best option.
“We analysed the leisure park at length and in the end, we decided that it was not viable,” Razzak said. “It was not a decision made by the club alone. We came to that conclusion with the council, for numerous reasons.
“We have spent 16 years analysing the requirements of the club in the medium to long-term future. We looked at numerous sites and it was decided that the best one was the land next to the Hilton.”
Razzak also moved to allay Cllr James’ fears over the plans.
Cllr James is concerned that the stadium could become obsolete, with Town needing a bigger ground if they are successful. He is also worried that the council could be left burdened with the cost of maintaining it.
Razzak insists that the club will be responsible for the upkeep of the stadium and said that it has been designed in such a way that the capacity could be increased if the club were to achieve success on the field.
The Town chairman also opposes Cllr James’ view that the club will be dependent on using the stadium for other events and argues that the ground will not cause traffic-related problems in the surrounding area.
Discussions between the club and the council continue, with Razzak hoping that the plans will be discussed by the cabinet in the near future.