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Ground war between Magpies and Terras
A WAR of words has broken out between Dorchester Town and Weymouth over failed plans to groundshare at the Avenue Stadium.
Echosport understands the proposal was given serious consideration by both clubs, only for it to break down after a disagreement over terms.
The Terras’ board had agreed to fit solar panels free of charge (through a company owned by acting chairman Pranas Preidzius) at the Avenue Stadium as part of their rental deal but the finer points in regards to other revenue streams seems to have proved the sticking point.
Now there appears to be some confusion over which club actually pulled the plug on the proposal with Dorchester Town chairman Shaun Hearn and ex-Weymouth chief George Rolls seemingly at loggerheads over the matter.
The Magpies, who host Lewes in a relegation six-pointer in Blue Square Bet South tomorrow (3pm), hit back yesterday after the Terras released a statement on their official website on Wednesday at around 3pm.
The declaration from the Weymouth board claimed they took the decision to end their involvement as they felt it was no longer “in the best interests” of the club.
However, Hearn has since told Echosport that he emailed Rolls at 1.30pm on Wednesday, informing him that Dorchester were indeed ending their participation.
He said: “I contacted Weymouth (on Wednesday) and said that we had been talking about it and do not want to add any further uncertainty to their existence.
“We have enough problems of our own that we need to be concerned about, so it’s best for us to keep out of it and a groundshare is not in our best interests.
“We wanted to draw a line under it and reiterate that any discussions we have had are now null and void.
“Financially, I personally don’t believe there could be a deal to make it worth our while. However, we wish Weymouth every success as there are some good people down there.”
Rolls, who stepped down as chairman at the beginning of March claiming he was “no longer a participant in Weymouth FC”, was immediately asked for his response.
The Cambridge-based businessman’s family still owns the club’s majority shareholding and he reckons the board had decided not to proceed with the plans with Dorchester last week.
He said: “The terms were sent to Dorchester Town FC but they changed the goalposts in respect of the rates that were agreed and therefore it was not a viable option anymore.
“A decision was then made by the board of directors last week not to pursue it and both associate directors were immediately informed.
“Ade MacDonald, the chairman of the Weymouth FC Supporters Association, was also informed at the weekend that we would not be moving to Dorchester Town FC.
“The board did not want to go public with it until the fans’ forum on April 16 where it could address the supporters face-to-face, but after receiving an email from Dorchester Town on Wednesday it was decided that a statement should be released immediately.”
When contacted by Echosport, MacDonald, whose recently produced an open letter on behalf of the WFCSA calling for answers from the Terras’ board, added: “George indicated verbally to me in a telephone call on Tuesday that we were not going to move to Dorchester Town FC. However, he gave me nothing concrete to relay to the supporters.
“That is why earlier this week we came out again calling for some evidence on what he was saying.
“The fact the board is now looking at the club remaining at the Bob Lucas Stadium is very positive news and as ever we are happy to work alongside them, and anyone else, in order to help safeguard the future of the club.”
Associate director Nigel Biddlecombe was also asked when he was informed of the decision.
He said: “I was told on March 30 at the Swindon Supermarine game that the board had decided not to pursue the move to Dorchester.”
The Terras also face a crucial clash tomorrow at fellow relegation candidates Tiverton Town in the Zamaretto Premier Division (3pm).
And there are fears they may have to travel with a weakened squad due to another falling out between the club’s board and the fundraising initiative Wessex Fantasy Football.
A statement on the Terras’ website reads: “Nigel Biddlecombe has been informed by the Wessex Fantasy Football that monies for April will not be handed over to Weymouth FC as promised.
“The reason for this is that they are stating they want written answers to the WFCSA before handing over the money.
“The board of directors will not be blackmailed into a written response, and, as has already been advertised a fans’ forum will take place to discuss the future of Weymouth FC, and answer questions raised by WFCSA.
“The board will now have to inform manager Martyn Rogers that he will have to release players with immediate effect.”
In response, WFF founder Ian White said: “We are fully supporting and backing the WFCSA open letter and their request for all the answers to their questions being put into writing. In other words, we are uniting.
“This is a very worthy cause that all WFC fans need and they deserve to receive answers to those questions. We are also as always protecting our fans’ hard earned money.”
Meanwhile, the start time of the fans’ forum has been brought forward by an hour to 6.30pm but will still cost £5 per person to attend, which includes a buffet.
Biddlecombe added: “I expressed my reservations about the start time to George and he decided to bring it forward.
“As for the £5 entry fee, the club needs to get some money in to see us through with rates and things like entry fees for next season all due to be paid over the next couple of months. That is why we have decided to use the forum as a fundraiser.”