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burgess hill town football club logoHillians Call On Council To Award The Club A New Ten-Year Lease To Secure Ground Improvement Grants

2nd October 2015
By Peter Chapman

The lack of a current 10-year lease at the Green Elephants Stadium has left Burgess Hill Town Football Club unable to apply for grants to make the mandatory improvements needed to remain in the Ryman Premier Division past the end of this season.

The club are now appealing to Mid Sussex District Council to back them with a new lease so that they can avoid unnecessary financial pressures and continue their upward trajectory.

In a statement on the Official Burgess Hill Town FC website, John Rattle wrote:


Ian Chapman asked for the players performances on the pitch to be more consistent this season to ensure we survive in this league.  

We have to do this off the pitch too….. 

john rattle general manager burgess hill town fcYou may have noticed on your last visit to the ground, the old portacabin office has been replaced by a new one ? This will become both an office and a new Boardroom Hospitality Area. It’s prime location will enhance the offer to visiting officials, our own directors and match sponsors.

By moving the current boardroom, we hope to improve the facilities in the bottom bar in the clubhouse by providing more toilets, inc disabled/baby changing facilities. The area would also provide enough room for us to upgrade the match officials changing facilities which needs to have a separate female facility too.  

Along with the covered terracing for 200 people we need to install to meet the ground grading requirements to remain in the Ryman Premier League next season.  

At the moment, the club is financially ‘sound’ but both these projects would drain any club’s finances. So how do other clubs do it ? FA funding/lottery schemes etc is the answer in the majority of cases. 

There are various funding options available BUT all require the applicants to have a lease of 10 years or more – something that we don’t have with our landlords Mid Sussex District Council. We are ‘making noises’ and we feel the community/area is being enhanced by this football club. We do seem to have supporters in our local council, Burgess Hill Council, but MSDC are the one’s that matter. 

Therefore, the word CONSISTENCY is also needed from local government stakeholders in helping our football club to grow and become not only a football team to be proud of – but a ground with facilities to be proud of.  

John Rattle - General Manager, Burgess Hill Town FC

Plans in the town-wide strategy called for both the football club and Burgess Hill Rugby club to be relocated to the north west of the town in the 'Northern Arc' development, either as part of the centre for community sport or on another plot further to the west.

Leylands Park (The Hillians' current ground) would then be redeveloped for housing.

The current relocation plans are unknown publicly. As we know with all the Burgess Hill developments, things can change regularly, promises of millions of pounds and vows to retain or replace facilities don't mean a lot when it comes to our town - we're not Haywards Heath.

green elephants stadium, Leylands Park
The Green Elephants Stadium - Current Home Of Bugress Hill Town Football Club

It seems like Burgess Hill Town FC could end up being victims of their own success. They are currently playing at the highest level in their history. This has been great for the town in terms of exposure and the local economy. If they're not granted a new lease, they'd have to plunder their own finances to keep the club in the Ryman Premier when grants for ground improvements would be available if MSDC play ball.

The Hillians already run the '400 club' where members pay £6 a month with 50% going on prizes and the other 50% on improvements around the ground, The club are very mindful of keeping facilties up to scratch, but this money can only go so far.

If the club's financial resources are drained, they won't have as much money to keep the team fighing at the right end of the table. It would be a huge shame considering the massive effort by everyone involved at the club to bring higher-level football to our town.

We asked MSDC to comment, here's what they said:

Mid Sussex District Council LogoMid Sussex District Council is a supporter of Burgess Hill Town Football Club and values its contribution to the Burgess Hill community. We have been keenly following the club’s progress and hope that their successful run continues.  Their current lease runs until 2019.

We understand that the Club wishes to develop the range of ground facilities to enable the Club to progress into higher football leagues and we welcome that discussion with the Club officers. 

However, to enable the Council to make any decision about the development of new facilities and the future of this site, we need more information about how the Club would manage both the visitors and vehicles coming to the ground in the form of a management plan from the Club.  The Club are aware that this is necessary before any discussions about the proposals can progress.

Mid Sussex District Council

With the council pointing towards the number of visitors and vehicle movements to the site as a potential sticking point, it could indeed be that the club will be a victim of their own success.

It must be noted however that Burgess Hill Town Football Club are not looking to increase the capacity of the ground. The F.A requirements are for more seating/standing areas with covering.

We'll follow the developments closely and keep you updated.

Spread the word, Burgess Hill need their lease extending to help them survive and thrive in the Ryman Premier Division

Got an opinion on this story? Leave a comment below.....
Do you think that Mid Sussex District Council should award Burgess Hill Town FC a new 10-year lease to help them thrive in the Ryman Premier Division?

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