Speed is the essential key for City’s new ground

York Press: Ian McAndrew Ian McAndrew

YORK City's board revealed last night that the club are hoping their move to a new ground can be completed within five years.

The Minstermen are also looking for the City of York Council to decide quickly whether they are committed to helping build a community sports stadium and, if so, whether a site could be identified for such an arena before the end of this year.

If not, the football club have signalled an intention to pursue their own relocation plans while also seeking possible commercial partners, such as hoteliers, and welcoming interest from other parties who could contribute money towards financing any project.

Based on an estimate of the current marketable value of City's KitKat Crescent home with planning permission and the £2million Football Foundation loan which, under its terms, would be converted into a grant on relocation, the football club could raise at least £7million for the purpose of building a new stadium.

To avoid financial penalties according to the terms of the Football Foundation loan, sanctioned to buy back the club's Bootham Crescent home from former chairman Douglas Craig, City need to identify a site for relocation by the end of this year, obtain planning permission in 2009 and be playing football at their new stadium during the 2014/2015 season.

But City managing director Jason McGill also explained at last night's Supporters' Trust annual general meeting that the club are losing £150,000 in "dead money" every year they remain at their current home hence the desire to move as quickly as possible to avoid the annual loan repayments and maintenance repairs.

At the same meeting, stadium development director Ian McAndrew expressed his confidence that the money the club can generate on the sale of KitKat Crescent would be sufficient to provide a suitable new home.

He said: "Now has got to be the time to push our plans forward. It needs to be determined whether the council want a stadium for the city of York and, if so, we need to find out what assets would be put in.

"We need to know whether it will be for us or for the city because that also has an impact on where the site will be. We might have to go for it ourselves though because we can't be held back.

"2007 is about York City setting the agenda and driving forward irrespective of others because we have targets to meet. That's no reference to the council's level of support because they have been very supportive but their agenda is determined by local planning and they do appreciate our agenda is different.

"If it came to just us being there our funds should be enough to have a stand-alone stadium that York City would be proud of and meets Football League criteria. Bootham Crescent is a cracking and stunning site for a residential housing development and would be the subject of some hard negotiation and the price would be the best we can get.

"It would be a different stadium if others come in with funding and there would be scope for a commercial partner depending on the location, but our ambition for a stadium, if we went alone, would still be for one that is iconic and has modern facilities."

Both McGill and McAndrew added that relocation within five years was "achievable" should a site be identified this year and planning permission obtained within 12 months even if the government called in any possible development for further consultation, which would add another six months to the time scale.

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