Given the early-stage plans (or at least impressions) of a new ground for K’s that were made open to the public at Sunday’s game, it seems timely to take a look at the current situation, as far as I see it. I’m not going to confuse the issue of the ground by bringing discussions of club ownership into this article. The ground situation and club ownership are two totally separate things, and need to be kept that way, even if one of the oft-stated ‘facts’ is that it’s easier to get outside funding for a new ground if a club is fan-owned.
Like most fans – and interested parties – I’m not privy to any behind the scenes information at all, and I’m not a club official, so I can only go on what we’ve been told so far. Here’s my summary:
- It is assumed that Kingstonian will leave Kingsmeadow at the end of the 2016-17 season – but this hasn’t been confirmed, or any reasoning offered;
- Nobody outside of “the board” has been made aware of the outcome of discussions with Chelsea FC about possible terms for us to stay at Kingsmeadow;
- “The board” are exploring the possibility of a new ground being built on the site of Chessington Golf Centre, in, err, Chessington;
- This is green belt land (apparently – which is absolutely ridiculous, but that’s for another day) and as such any planning applications will be long, argumentative, and potentially unsuccessful;
- Chessington & Hook United FC are rumoured to be directly involved in some way, but nothing has been said about it. Certainly they’re involved indirectly, as the ‘new’ ground would be almost adjacent to their current Chalky Lane home;
- There have been no details provided about the ownership of this proposed ground.
In my mind, the above situation leaves more questions than answers. The factual questions are:
1. What actually was the outcome of the (presumably extensive) discussions with Chelsea?
2. Do we have to leave Kingsmeadow, or are we choosing to do so because of the terms offered?
3. Is there an option to remain at Kingsmeadow until any new ground is built? If so, and we are still intending to move out at the end of next season to groundshare: why?
4. Have we genuinely exhausted the possibility of playing at every single possible site closer to Kingston than South Chessington?
5. What is the proposed ownership structure for the new Chessington ground? Would we be landlords? If not, what are the terms on offer?
We, the supporters, should certainly be told the answers to questions 1 to 3 ASAP. They are the starting point for every other decision that needs to be made. Question 4 may be difficult to answer, but detail would be appreciated, particularly as regards the athletics stadium, which was swatted aside as an option with no details given. Question 5 may not be answerable at this time, but it has to be answered before any final decisions are taken. It is the be-all and end-all of the whole discussion, so much more important that some artists’ impressions of what a new ground would look like. Although a roof on any behind the goal terracing is an absolute must!
The more difficult questions that arise from the current state of affairs are:
1. Would South Chessington be a real home for Kingstonian FC?
2. Would moving onto Chessington & Hook United’s patch make us the ultimate hypocrites, as the ‘bigger’ club moving onto a ‘smaller’ club’s turf regardless of the consequences?
But there’s no point in even thinking about those tricky questions if we don’t know the full facts. It’s pointless debating the rights and wrongs of a move to Chessington is it turns out to be a bad move for the club anyway. And without being told the details, how can we tell if it would be a good move tor the club or not? I’d like to think I’m not a naive fool: I understand that there will be commercial considerations in what supporters can be told. But, for crying out loud, we need to be told something, soon.