Sandhurst Town Council responds to speculation about the football ground at Bottom Meadow
We understand there are concerns and discussions circulating on social media regarding the local football ground at Bottom Meadow which now has shared occupancy with Sandhurst Town FC and Bracknell Town FC under a new lease agreement with sporting academy, The SB Group. We wish to address these concerns with clear and transparent information to alleviate any misunderstandings and anxieties.
The concerns predominantly centre around the increase in games, parking issues, the length and confidentiality of the lease agreement, and the decision-making process, primarily surrounding the Delegated Decisions Committee’s (DDC) involvement. The below statement aims to assure you that all aspects were handled legally and diligently, always prioritising Sandhurst and its residents.
The new lease is with the SB Group, a UK leading academy delivering sporting and academic syllabus for athletes ages 10-20 years old to enhance their professional sporting opportunities. The SB Group has made an astounding £6.5 million investment so far, transforming the previous waterlogged pitch into a state-of-the-art facility with new stands, world-class 3G turf, and an excellent clubhouse. Sandhurst Town FC was on the brink of administration, and this significant investment has not only ensured Sandhurst Town FC's survival, but has also allowed both Sandhurst FC (previously Sandhurst Boys & Girls FC) teams a fantastic venue to develop their skills. Sandhurst FC (previously Sandhurst Boys & Girls FC) is the UK’s second largest junior football club, second only to Manchester, and access to this superior facility is a significant advantage for our community.
The new stadium recently had the honour of hosting an FA Cup game and holds annual charity celebrity football games bringing excitement, television exposure, considerable fundraising for good causes, and business to our town. All of this comes at no cost to the Council or the residents. Furthermore, all improvements on the ground will remain the property of Sandhurst Town Council if SB Group or Bracknell Town FC decide to relocate in the future; ensuring the long-term benefits for our town.
Sandhurst has always been proud of our local football team while respecting the wellbeing of our residents. It’s important to note that the site has been a football ground for over a century and the new lease does not allow for any more supporters than the previous lease.
The lease agreement was confidentially negotiated and agreed upon, as per legal norms. This standard and lawful practice ensures the protection and fairness of negotiations for all parties involved. This is the same for all leases agreed by the council.
The decision to approve the lease was made by the Council’s Strategy & Policy (S&P) Committee, as is standard practice for all Council leases. There is circulating misinformation that the Delegated Decisions Committee or DDC (a group to make urgent decisions before the next council meeting) agreed the lease, but this is simply not true. The DDC involvement was limited to overseeing the final stages between solicitors, a task typically managed solely by the Executive Officer. This involvement of councillors amplifies the transparency and democracy of the process rather than diminishing it. Any amendments were then approved by the entire S&P Committee. For further clarity, a timeline of the relevant decisions is available HERE.
Despite the addition of supporters from Bracknell Town FC, the number of supporters allowed in the ground remains unchanged from the previous lease. However, recognising the increased parking demands, we are actively collaborating with all involved parties to manage and resolve these issues efficiently and effectively and will continue to do so. A successful outcome requires good relations between the Council and the SB Group which is what we aim to maintain.
In conclusion, while we fully appreciate and understand the concerns of some residents, we stand firm in our belief that this agreement lays a robust and positive path forward for Sandhurst, its residents, our sports clubs, our children’s sport development, and our local businesses. Our council is composed of councillors who are your neighbours, living with their family and friends and volunteering their time freely to enhance the quality of life and opportunities in Sandhurst. We stand united in supporting sports clubs, championing not just football but also cricket, tennis, and other sports, striving to make Sandhurst a beacon of sporting excellence, especially for our children.
The cooperation, understanding, and continued dialogue with the community is highly appreciated. Let us move forward together, ensuring Sandhurst remains a place of sport, community, opportunity, mutual respect, and respectful dialogue.