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burgess hill town football club logoBurgess Hill Town Football Club Chairman Calls On Fans To Push The Council For Support

10th January 2017
By Peter Chapman

Burgess Hill Town Football Club Chairman Kevin Newell has called upon fans to contact their local councillors for answers as he feels the club are not being supported by Mid Sussex District Council as they look to maintain their Ryman Premier League status.

The Hillians were promoted for the 2015/16 season (going up as champions from the Ryman South) and found it tough going in the latter part of their debut season. The club finished in the relegation places, but had a reprieve after Farnborough were deducted 10 points for going into administration.

During this time, the club had to dip into their own finances to install more covered stands in order for them to meet the required ground grading to remain in the Premier Division. If the club had a longer lease at Leylands Park, they would have qualified for grants, thus their own finances could have been spent on further improvements to the playing squad.

Unfortunately, Burgess Hill Town haven't found things any easier this term. They currently sit in 19th position. just 2 places and 1 point above the relegation zone - albeit with 3-6 games in hand on many of the teams around them.

Their current form is one win, one draw and four losses from their last six games. Manager Ian Chapman issued an apology after Hill went down 3-1 at Folkestone on January 2nd. Then followed a 6-0 loss at home to Leiston which led to the chairman to also come out publicly with the following words.....

In a message on the Official Burgess Hill Town FC website, Kevin Newell wrote:

We have started the New Year rather sadly with poor performances away at Folkestone and today we came up against a very good Leiston FC team.

I know Ian Chapman has put his thoughts on the website last week. He feels it very deeply when the team let him, his staff, and all of us down. Nevertheless, now is the time to get behind the team and put these performances behind us.

The manager’s job is not made any easier by the budget constraints I have to apply to him. Running a team at this level is an expensive exercise. I’ve not been able to make additional funds available, because we have to find from our own resources the expenses to meet the ground improvements which are both desirable and necessary to play at this level.

Most other clubs are able to get help in the way of grants from the Football Stadium Improvement Fund, but because Mid Sussex District Council won’t extend our lease, we don’t qualify for grant aid.

Since I’ve been involved, I’ve had to accept a five-year lease three times, because each time the Council have told us the ground is going to be re-developed, but 15 years on and there’s no sign of it. I met again with the Council before Christmas and received encouraging words, but since then, absolutely nothing ! 

It’s more than a little frustrating, especially as the Leisure Facility study commissioned by the Council in 2009 suggested the organisation of a working party with BHTFC ‘by 2011/12’ to consider the options available. The council have never even approached us on this.

If you share my frustration about the Council’s lack of support for the leading sports club in its district, please raise it with your local councillor. All addresses are on the Mid Sussex web-site.

So, as a club, we stick together and get behind the Manager, the team and all involved at the club.

Thank you.

Kevin Newell, Chairman, Burgess Hill Town Football Club

Mid Sussex District Council have responded to Newell's words:

Mid Sussex District Council Logo“We are always open to discussions with Burgess Hill Town Football Club and, as Mr Newell has said, we met with them just before Christmas,”

“We’re keen to work closely with the club, so if Mr Newell has further matters to talk over, I would encourage him to get in contact with us directly.”.

Councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards, Cabinet Member for Resources and Economic Growth.

It's a real shame that the chairman has had to request that Burgess Hill supporters contact their local councillors to help push along the need for MSDC and the club to get a solid plan together going forward.

It was only a few months ago that Burgess Hill's Mayor (Unelected) Jacqui Landriani visited the club for a Saturday game, enjoying all the press attention, saying all the right things. What has she done in her role of District Councillor to help out the club since her visit?

Two seasons ago it was another Burgess Hill Mayor (Unelected) Anne Jones who lapped up the attention during the club's F.A Cup run. She was pictured all smiiles with the chairman. What is she doing behind the scenes to help?

If these two councillors really do back the club, then why haven't things moved forward? Perhaps the club's supporters should email Cllrs Landriani and Jones to ask what exactly they have done so far? Their answers (or lack of) would be very interesting.

Maybe a Burgess Hill councillor can ask questions of MSDC Leader Garry Wall at the next full meeting of the council? Ah yes, this doesn't happen anymore since every member of the council is Conservative and they can't possibly put their senior councillors on the spot with difficult questions!

Mid Sussex District Council - Why aren't they moving things forward with BHTFC?

A Final Word
Burgess Hill have played exactly half of their 46 league games. If they can win three of the six games in hand over many teams, then they could be in the top half of the table!

With seven more games to come this month, the panic button shouldn't be pressed until the end of that period - hopefully it won't be necessary.

There's a multitude of reasons of why a club can struggle and it would be a great shame that a seemingly straight forward one - sorting out ground lease with the district council - would leave the club short of a significant sum of money which could have seen a few more quality players brought into the club to ensure that Ryman Premier League status can be enjoyed for many years to come.

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

Spread the word, Burgess Hill Town once again seek to move things forward with Mid Sussex District Council to help their Ryman Premier status.

Got an opinion on this story? Leave a comment below.....
Why do you think that MSDC haven't take then opportunity to grant Burgess Hill Town Football Club a 10-year lease over the past 15 years?

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