Clubs unite to get long-term sports leases

The Oxford Times: Chairwoman Sue Wilson Chairwoman Sue Wilson

SPORTS teams in Witney could be in line for better facilities as club officials try to overhaul how they are run.

West Witney Sports Ground users currently separately rent football, cricket and bowling pitches from Witney Town Council but they want to negotiate long-term leases.

They have set up the West Witney Sports Association with the aim of presenting a business plan to the town council and securing grants.

Chairwoman Sue Wilson a member of Witney Mills Bowls Club, said it would provide certainty for sports clubs after moves to sell the site a year ago.

She said: “There’s been so much uncertainty. Having a long term lease would also help us get better facilities because it would open up so many doors for match-funding that’s only available to sports clubs with their own facilities.”

There are more than 1,500 members playing sports at the ground including football, cricket, tennis and bowls, which would all be brought under one club.

The sports association would be run as a community interest club and would want a 25-year on the ground to then sub-lease to each sports club.

Officials believe having a more certain future would give the clubs better access to grants from funding bodies.

The association would also request £250,000 in funding designated for sports facilities from the 1,000-home West Witney development.

It has appointed a committee and members are expected to make a presentation next month to the town council’s West Witney Sports Ground working party showing how it would run the facilities.

A report by consultants Sports Solutions GB for the town council estimated it would cost £500,000 to upgrade current buildings.

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