Woking Football Club, The Laithwaite Community Stadium, Kingfield, Woking, Surrey, GU22 9AA01483 772470
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Message from Councillor Ali

5th June 2020

We have been asked by a local councillor to show the email below to our fans and out of respect have done so. The Chairman has contacted Councillor Ali to respond. If any fans would like to ask for clarification on any points please in the first instance contact ian.nicholson@wokingfc.co.uk

Rosemary Johnson
Chairman, Woking Football Club

"Dear Kingfield Faithful,

I am writing because I believe that fans of the club have been contacted by Woking Football Club to write to the council to voice your support for the development of the new stadium. Leaving aside issues on data protection surrounding this practice, I think it is also important that the facts of the stadium redevelopment plan are made clear to fans.

I would like to use this opportunity to assure you that we are fully supportive of the ambition of Woking Football club and committed to seeing it succeed.

That is not to say that we do not have very serious concerns over the plans and the trajectory of the development, especially in respects to its impacts on local residents and the viability of the club.

There are serious questions that need to be raised about the sustainability of the project. The developer GolDev has managed a number of large-scale projects which have been abandoned or had planning permission refused, with the current one being the biggest project to date. Woking Borough Council has so far shown no evidence of the suitability of GolDev to this project. If a project of this scale fails it will no doubt affect the club adversely and risk public money which we have a duty to spend very very wisely.

I have seen no solid evidence that the new stadium will be successful financially, either. Moving in to League 2 would mean an overall revenue uplift but substantially increased operating costs, and would “turn the current operating loss of £200k into a loss of £579k”.

The unprecedented economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19 makes the development proposal an even greater financial risk for WBC and the developers. For many football clubs at present, their very existence is at risk and the proposal to develop a 9,000 capacity stadium is likely to put increased pressure on the club finances at a time when football is likely to be played behind closed doors or with reduced capacity audience in the near future.

Pitting residents of Woking against one another is not how we should work. A new stadium should not only be an investment in financial terms, but also seen as an investment in the community. I am asking for more scrutiny and consideration over the development plans as they currently stand, and that the eventual plan that we agree on is financially sustainable and viable and can be proven to genuinely benefit the community.

Yours sincerely,
Mohammad Ali, Councillor for Canalside, Woking"
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