FOOTBALL fans packed into the Guildhall to watch the city councillors debate the future of a new community stadium for the city, in a dramatic meeting that saw two long serving Labour councillors publicly leave the party.

Dozens of fans were at a full meeting of the city council on Thursday night, with many forced to watch proceedings from a separate room with a video feed when the public gallery filled up.

Councillors voted through a proposal to give another £4 million of public money to the project, to fund a replacement for Waterworld, with Labour members saying that refusing the extra cash could stop the whole project going ahead.

The meeting heard from the football club's Sophie Hicks, who warned the members that a key financing deal on Bootham Crescent expires this month, and any delay on the new prjoect would have disastrous consequences for the club.

And Frank Ormston, of supporters club the York Minstermen, gave an emotional speech about how much the club means to fans.

He said said owners, players and managers come and go, but only fans remains, and he spoke of the continuous thread of support passed down through generations of York people.

"An owner can never own a club, heart and soul, because it belongs to the fans.

"Please don't delay any further. Don't let this become another missed opportunity. Don't let the thread be broken."

Protestors were also at the meeting to plead for the future of Yearsley Pool.

Fiona Evans, who leads the Yearsley Pool Action Group, said they do not oppose the new stadium, but felt their pool was being sacrificed to facilitate it.

She said; "All we are asking for is equality of treatment and a meaningful commitment to the future of Yearsley Pool, as originally promised by Cllr Alexander.

"Yearsley is no ordinary pool; it is unique, and a proud part of the Rowntree legacy and history of our city."

The meeting also saw a motion proposed by Liberal Democrat members asking for a commitment to keeping Yearsley Pool open, but even though the newly independent Cllr Scott supported it, the motion failed.

A lengthy debate saw accusations fly about the history of the closed Barbican swimming pool, council leader James Alexander accuse Liberal Democrats of wasting time by calling the stadium project in for further scrutiny, and claims from the Labour group that the project had stagnated until they came into power.

The Conservative group supported the stadium plan, but Cllr Paul Healey said: "I am going to support this, but we will get into the money in six months on the award of contract because I think there are some very interesting financial components that the city should know about."

The Liberal Democrat group also support the plans, and denied claims the current council administration had brought the project out of stagnation.

Cllr Nigel Ayre said the delays had come through problems finding a site and funding, and said his group had driven the project forward for years.

He said the retail units and threat to the Yearsley Pool were all the Labour group had added to the project.

The proposal eventually passed by 38 votes for, to one against and three abstentions, and huge cheers and a standing ovation in the publicly greeted the result.