Mead on the move to share stadium

Thamesmead Town will kick off in the Ryman League at the Princes Park home of Dartford next season after agreeing a five year deal to share the National League club's eco-friendly and state-of-the-art stadium.

The Ryman North club's fans, players and officials will leave their current home at Sporting Club Thamesmead in Bayliss Avenue at the end of the 2016-17 campaign after the long term groundshare agreement was officially sanctioned by the Ryman League this week.

In a statement announcing the switch, Mead chairman and owner Paul Bowden Brown thanked everybody involved in the negotiations and said the agreement would inject a new lease of life into the club.

The chairman, who has also guaranteed to honour a current freeze on season ticket prices for a third season running after the move, said: "The move to Princes Park will hopefully allow the board to bring the club into the 21st Century, and as the person with his hand on the heart of this fine old club, I feel that this decision will give the club a new lease of life."

“I would like to thank Steve Irving, joint chairman of Dartford, together with his fellow directors, for the way they have dealt with this long and time consuming process which has resulted in this formal agreement being agreed – one which I personally feel in the end, is well worth the effort.

"I would also like to thank Nick Robinson, the chairman of the Isthmian League, for his considerable personal input with this matter and ensuring that our legal position was protected. I would like to place on record my formal thanks to our current landlords – the Peabody Trust and their senior management – especially Dawn Young, head of operational services, and all her staff at the SCT – our home for the last four years."

Explaining the reasons behind the decision to move away from Bayliss Avenue, he said: “It is very unfortunate that Peabody were not able to offer the football club an agreed five year package when requested. Had they been in that position, the football club would not have contemplated a move, but TTFC is operated as a business and needs security of tenure at all times.

"Without that we cannot operate within league rules, and therefore for the financial stability and security of the club, I made the difficult decision to look elsewhere for the club to play its first team matches. And to this end, here we are playing at Princes Park – a genuine football stadium – from July 2017.”

Thamesmead Town

Thamesmead Town

He added: “There will be several individuals that will not agree with my decision to move the club, and I have already heard comments that I am “killing the club” by moving. But let’s be quiet clear – I feel in my opinion that the trouble started when this fine old club gave up its considerable security of tenure, as a condition of moving into the new stadium, without gaining from the then landlords Thamesmead Trust an agreed annual rate rather than short term licenses that were offered that were increased yearly."

Club secretary Dave Joy urged fans to set aside their objections and get behind the move as the best option open to them.

Joy said: “Sadly, the re location to Dartford Football Club has unfortunately become a necessity. It is a radical and some may say brave decision by him to take TTFC out of Thamesmead but it was felt that it was our only positive solution to ensure our future within the football pyramid.

"The agreement that the chairman has put in place with DFC is as watertight as any club could expect. Everyone needs to support this move; I’m sure some parties will be critical but it has been done for totally the right reasons and hopefully, will build a strong platform for Thamesmead Town Football Club to remain in existence for many years to come."

First team manager Tommy Warrilow also understands the reluctance of some fans but is backing the switch as the best possible option to ensure the club's long term survival.

“For someone who has only been involved in the club for one season, I honestly think that this move is one hundred percent right for the future of the football club," he said.

"I know that its taking it away from its spiritual home but ironically enough Dartford had to do exactly the same thing, albeit in different circumstances, but eventually went back to their home a much stronger club. This will be a new start for the club and is something that we have got to be excited about and embrace positively to help carry this club forward and up the non-league pyramid.

"I know that there’s a lot of sentiment involved around the club regarding this decision – and I do not want to disrespect anyone’s opinions or views but sometimes unfortunately you have to be a realist and again, in the short time I’ve been at this football club, this is one hundred percent the right decision to make sure that there is a Thamesmead Town Football Club.”

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