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Bristol Rovers ditch new stadium plan at UWE

Bristol Rovers ditch new stadium plan at UWE

Bristol Rovers ditch new stadium plan at UWE
August 03
18:59 2017

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Bristol Rovers FC

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Bristol Rovers said it “would be exploring other opportunities” for a new stadium

Bristol Rovers has said it will no longer be building a new stadium at University of West of England (UWE).

The club had hoped to build a 21,000-seater stadium at UWE at Stoke Gifford on the outskirts of the city.

It said it was “disappointed” that discussions with UWE had “come to a close as the parties were unable to agree acceptable terms”.

UWE however insisted it had “not given up on this hugely important project”.

In 2011, the football club reached a deal with UWE and Sainsbury’s so it could build a new stadium on the university’s land.

Sainsbury’s would then redevelop the club’s Memorial Stadium, in Horfield, and build a store.

‘Back to drawing board’

However, after delays, campaigns and petitions for and against the redevelopment, Sainsbury’s pulled out of the deal. A high court battle ensued which Rovers lost in 2015.

In February 2016 the club was bought by the Al-Qadi family.

In a statement, the club said it would “now have to go back to the drawing board” after abandoning plans to move to UWE .

It said it would “immediately turn our attention to exploring all other opportunities for a new stadium or for a substantive redevelopment of the Memorial Stadium, whilst at the same time continuing to develop the new Colony training ground”.

The club’s manager Darrell Clarke admitted the news was “very disappointing for everybody”.

A spokeswoman for UWE said the university “remained committed to delivering a new stadium”.

“We still believe it [the new stadium] would bring great benefits to the university, local community and the regional economy,” she said.

“Although we have been disappointed by the slow pace of negotiations, we are still willing and open to continue negotiations.

“This has been an initiative the university has been working on for over eight years and we still believe is deliverable.

“Planning consent does not expire until January 2018 and the door remains open for a deal to be struck, and the university will continue to work on this project.”

BBC Radio Bristol sports editor – Richard Hoskin

With so much positivity at Bristol Rovers going into the 2017-18 season, with a number of signings and manager Darrell Clarke signing a five-year contract, this news will come as a blow – especially given the time and money spent on the project.

Supporters have waited patiently for progress since the plans to build a new stadium at UWE were first released in 2011. Indeed, you could go back even further, to over three decades ago when they left Eastville.

Now fans will want to know what happens next, do they find a new site or redevelop the Memorial Stadium? And they’ll want reassurances that the Al-Qadi family remain committed to the football club.

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