Maidenhead United is to begin legal action against the Royal Borough over its decision not to proceed with a lease for a new stadium at Braywick Park.
The council reached an agreement with the Magpies in April 2022 for 3.7 hectares of Braywick Park to be leased to the club for a new 5,000 capacity stadium, subject to planning permission, but reversed that decision in July 2023 after the council’s place overview and scrutiny panel forced a rethink earlier this year.
July’s cabinet decision was made under the new LibDem administration amid concerns over lost open space and a valuation of just £460,000 for a 999-year lease.
Now the club has issued a statement which claims it has had no formal notification of the decision and plans to sue the council for breach of contract.
It went on: “We have clearly been let down by the new council administration, which chose to discard our proposals without meeting their obligation to the club or local residents to consider the benefits of a new community stadium with associated astroturfs, athletics, futsal, disabled sport and wellbeing facilities will deliver for the community.
“Furthermore, they failed to recognise or consider that the new stadium facilities would be held independently, in trust, for the benefit of the community and would be delivered and maintained in the long term at no cost to the council.
“This seems even more incredulous today, given the challenging financial situation the local authority has subsequently revealed. Consequently, there is unlikely to be any substantial capital funding available from the council in the foreseeable future to invest in the additional sports and wellbeing facilities the local area needs.”
The club argued its proposals would enhance the sporting hub which already exists and cannot currently accommodate the demand for facilities and some teams have to play outside the borough.
A petition has been launched on the RBWM website by former local journalist Shay Bottomley in support of the move and the club has asked fans to support it. It currently has more than 1,300 signatures.
In terms of the club’s next steps, we have taken legal advice regarding the Council’s contractual obligations to the club, which they have not met.
The club statement went on: “Given this failure and the continued lack of formal communication with us, at this stage, we have no alternative but to take legal action against the council for breach of contract.
“Accordingly, we have asked our legal advisors to commence preparing the case.
“We have verbally informed councillors about this, who understand why we are taking this step and have assured us this will not impact our wider relationships with the council.
“Our hope is that the matter can be resolved without the requirement for legal action and we remain committed to working with RBWM to achieve a positive outcome.”
A council spokesperson said: “Cabinet carefully considered the proposed disposal of open space at Braywick Park in July, taking into account the benefits, alongside any negative consequences of loss of public open space, having regard to the objections received.
“After giving full consideration to both sides of this important matter, and receiving a full and detailed report, cabinet decided that the loss of public open space in this location outweighed the potential benefits of leasing to Maidenhead Utd FC. This was a difficult decision, based on significant considerations raised in the public objections.
“The debate and decision by cabinet was recorded in the minutes and this is publicly available.”
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