Following negotiations with local property developer Summerfield Developments Ltd, Taunton Town Football Club are pleased to announce that the option agreement between the two parties formalised in 2007 has been rescinded. Subject to a suitable alternative site being identified to relocate the football club, the agreement entitled the company to purchase the Wordsworth Drive ground for development up to the year 2016, with a further two year extension if appropriate.
The club have made no secret of the fact that they are no longer contemplating moving away from their home of 59 years and are actively seeking to improve the facilities they already have, the most important being a new clubhouse to replace the Peacock Club which had to be demolished after a fire last July.
Chairman Kevin Sturmey commented:” We decided quite some time ago that we wished to stay at Wordsworth Drive and carry out ground improvements as and when finances allowed. The clubhouse fire obviously forced the issue and work will now thankfully begin very shortly on our new temporary facility.”
The insurance policy inherited by the new board was grossly inadequate, resulting in a considerable shortfall in funds with which to rebuild. The club have consequently been investigating grants and funding from various bodies; however they have been restricted by the existence of the option agreement which made them ineligible for major funding. Sturmey said:” Without a new clubhouse and the income stream it would generate, our ambition to climb the non-league system would have been a non-starter and we would have undoubtedly had to consider the viability of remaining in the Southern League. It would not have been feasible to spend money developing the ground when there might have been the possibility of us having to move. I would like to thank Summerfield Developments Ltdfor their co-operation and understanding during our discussions. Although there was a delay in completing the legalities, this has now been sorted out. The removal of the option can now let us plan with a clearer path.”
The club can now decide their strategy for the months ahead. Planning permission for the new clubhouse development on the Wordsworth Drive side of the ground has been granted, however given the large amount of money required and the tight timescale before the start of next season,temporary modular buildings will be erected on the site of the former clubhouse. Sturmey continued:” The new clubhouse will contain a bar, skittle alley and toilets and there will also be another building for use as a boardroom and a sponsors’ hospitality suite. The long-term plan is still very much to go ahead with the new building on the other side of the ground but we have to make sure our finances are sustainable to do so. Although our modular clubhouse will be temporary, it will still be a high quality building for our supporters and the local community. A date and venue will be announced very soon for a forum at which fans can come and find out the latest progress.”