John Mann: Progress slow on new Worksop Town stadium but Vesuvius could still be option

Worksop Town v Pickering Town, MP John Mann watches the game
Worksop Town v Pickering Town, MP John Mann watches the game

MP John Mann admits that progress on a potential new stadium for Worksop Town is slow, but insists things have to be done properly to guarantee a 50-year stay in any new home.

The Bassetlaw MP has given an update of sorts this week, almost two years after he announced proposals for a new ground for the world’s fourth oldest club.

One of the most interesting points for locals is Mr Mann’s insistence that the Vesuvius development is not out of the question as a location for the stadium.

But Mr Mann also says progress on any site will depend on Bassetlaw Council’s housing allocation plan and Worksop Town FC’s ownership and leadership structure becoming more clear.

“There will be no movement until the council’s local housing allocation plan is working, because housing development and industrial development is key to the grants and raising some of the money,” he said.

“Things are moving much slower than I would like but this is about sorting things for the next 50 years.

“I’m still quite relaxed about the timescale.

“I have two sites earmarked as options - Vesuvius, which could come back into play, that’s not out of the question, and a second site in Worksop.”

Mr Mann is remaining tight lipped about the second possible location, but said that a development being linked to the council’s land allocation was vital.

He said: “The council are going cautiously, the land allocation is important because otherwise you’re fighting a battle with planning on any site.

“I think there’s public support for some of the money coming from housing developments to go into this.

“It should have happened 20 years ago with Gateford but it didn’t.

“They built all those houses but could have got money out of the developers for something significant.

“There will be a lot of new houses in Worksop over the next 20 years.”

The town’s football club also need to get their affairs in order for any move to become possible, says Mr Mann.

Tigers are still owned by Proact CEO Jason Clark, but he withdrew his financial backing in May 2014, leaving supporters to fund the club.

“Worksop Town, if they want to move to this new home, they will be able to develop the other three sides of the ground,” said Mr Mann.

“If Jason Clark or Howard Raymond or some other individual wants to come and invest that’s not a barrier in itself.

“Who are we dealing with? Who will make the decision that Worksop Town is to move if a new stadium was built?

“I’ve written to Jason Clark asking what his plans are because that’s important to know.

“If he wants to sell his shares to the supporters, fine. If he wants to invest himself, my model can handle that - but certainty is very important.

“The current impasse is unhelpful, it’s important to know if it will be fan owned or someone like Jason Clark.

“How we get around raising money is impacted by that.

“I’m not going to create a money spinner for a businessman to profit from.”

If work does ever begin on the project, Mr Mann wants it to meet his criteria.

“My bottom line is a site in Worksop, with the NHS having a facility as part of the development, an all weather facility, full youth involvement - we’re building a stadium for the kids.

“My preferred model is to have a grass pitch for Worksop Town FC and a junior all weather pitch.

“At some stage, this year I hope, I will provide some sketch plans for people to see.

“It will be my intention that there will be a main stand, a club house, changing rooms and a space for the supporters to have a room.”

And he confirmed that he wouldn’t want to see an athletics track around Worksop’s football pitch, something many supporters have spoken against in the past.

“I’m not looking at an athletics track around the Worksop Town pitch, there’s separate movement on athletics.

“I think we can have a high quality athletics facility and a high quality football facility so they don’t have to literally sit together.”

In October 2014 Mr Mann revealed proposals for a £2million football stadium, including a 3G pitch in constant use.

Tigers currently play at Sandy Lane in the town but they are tenants of current leaseholder Pete Whitehead who owns Handsworth Parramore.