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A Shrewd Move Part 2

By: Todd Bontoft
Date: 30/10/2000

But it seems it's endemic that when the clubs themselves need assistance, local authorities develop an instant head in the sand posture. Shrewsbury Town is, like Grimsby, far from a glamour club, and does not attract national media attention.

They too are seeking planning permission to move to a £15M, 10,000 seated stadium and are experiencing the hurdles faced by council bureaucracy, NIMBYism and a general anti-football mentality.

Please visit their website and lend your support.

'New Meadow' at Moele Brace, received overwhelming backing by Shrew's fans, despite the strong emotional pull of Gay Meadow, with which we can all relate. They now face the daunting prospect of convincing planners and county councillors before their dreams will be realised. Local planning officers believe that there has been no detailed consideration for re-development of the current Gay Meadow site. However with the River Severn on one side, and a railway on the other it's hardly the most difficult task for planners to comprehend there is insufficient space to provide all the facilities hoped for at the new site.

The picturesque Gay Meadow, even if the stands were upgraded, would not allow enough space for the club's desire to provide new community centres, training pitches, a floodlit Astroturf pitch and more besides. There we go again - a football club providing for its community!

The New Meadow will provide a FIFA standard-sized playing area, allowing international matches such as under 21's, and a stadium with facilities that will be a credit to the town. It will also alleviate traffic congestion within the town, increase supporters' safety and security by moving away from the hard to police town centre.

But, as we are only too aware, getting over all the hurdles before we find ourselves in a new stadium is a lottery. Shrewsbury fans are now actively writing in droves to planners, councillors and the local paper galvanising public opinion behind the club's plans.

If we at Grimsby Town want a new stadium, then Mariners' fans everywhere must do the same. I know that there is pressure from many for "someone to do something", well that someone is you. It is clear, not only from our own experience, but from Shrewsbury, Charlton , Brighton and many other clubs, that local authorities only sit up and take notice when there is a concerted campaign in support of the respective club's plans.

Good luck to Shrewsbury, and a hope that the actions of their fans make the difference. In the end, the community always benefits from a successful club.

I have a feeling in my bones that it will get a little hotter for the 20 councillors that have so far scuppered Grimsby Town's plans. They would be wise to call that meeting, listen to the wishes of the people of North East Lincolnshire and allow that stadium at Great Coates to be built.

That may be a shrewd move for them, a shrewd move for each and every one of us would be to email/write to the local paper, the council's planning department and our local councillors. Only then will sense prevail.

Should the plans for the stadium fall at the eleventh hour and you didn't put pen to paper, you will have to live with the thought of 'if only'.

Todd Bontoft

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