Nene Park football return 'unlikely' says Max Griggs

Rushden and Diamonds V Luton Town at Nene Park in 2001 Rushden and Diamonds eventually folded in 2011

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The founder of a now defunct football club says the stadium could only return to use if a major benefactor is found.

East Northamptonshire District Council said a developer was due to submit an application to redevelop Rushden and Diamonds' Nene Park ground "in weeks".

But Max Griggs, who led the club to the Football League, said "a lot of money would need to be thrown at it" for a club to start at the site again.

The owner of the land has declined to comment on what is being proposed.

Rushden and Diamonds started in 1992 by the amalgamation of Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds.

Max Griggs Max Griggs believes much money would be needed to start a club at Nene Park again

After building a state-of-the-art stadium in Irthlingborough, the club was half way up the third tier of football when Mr Griggs pulled out in 2005 for financial reasons.

'Paying for fun'

The club was sold to a supporters' trust but it eventually folded in 2011. Shortly afterwards, Kettering Town played at the ground for 18 months but could not afford its long-term upkeep.

New club AFC Rushden and Diamonds now play in the United Counties Premier League at a ground in Wellingborough about five miles away.

Mr Griggs, who is retired, said he would not envy anyone who took on the 6,500-capacity stadium.

"I don't think anybody could run the stadium and resurrect the football club again unless they're prepared to throw a lot of money at it like I did," he said.

"It costs a lot of money to run a football club and whatever money you put into football, in my experience, you don't really get back. You're really paying for your fun at the end of the day."

Site owner Keith Cousins said he hoped football would return, but he had a number of options to consider and declined to comment further.

East Northamptonshire District Council said the site must contain a leisure facility as part of its remit, but has not specified further what that could be.

Rushden and Diamonds celebrate after holding Leeds United to a draw in the FA Cup Rushden and Diamonds' demise was as quick as their rise to glory

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