Cheltenham Town decide against racecourse move

Cheltenham Racecourse
The Jockey Club is thought to be investing more than £25m in the redevelopment of the racecourse

Cheltenham have shelved plans to relocate their ground to the town's racecourse at Prestbury Park.

The League Two outfit, who are based at Whaddon Road, have been in discussions with racecourse owners about a joint venture since 2008.

But both parties have decided the move is not currently possible because of "general economic uncertainty".

Robins chairman Paul Baker said: "It is disappointing that the costs of the move are prohibitive."

He continued: "It has never the less been a very valuable and informative exercise and it was absolutely right that the project was thoroughly evaluated.

"The football club was genuinely excited about the possibility of relocating to a prestigious new stadium at the racecourse but always maintained that the move would have to be financially viable and sustainable."

The racecourse is built on greenbelt land and restrictions are in place on the number of permanent stands that can be erected, meaning that around half of the 70,000 daily racegoers at the annual National Hunt Festival are situated in temporary tented structures.

In 2008, the second day of the festival was lost because of wind damage to the tents. Since then, managing director Edward Gillespie has voiced his ambition to build permanent stands and said racecourse owners would consider constructing a double-sided grandstand to share with the football club.

And although those plans have now been shelved, Gillespie believes a deal could still be reached in the future.

"We have worked closely with Paul Baker, his colleagues and advisers and we have established that the vision for relocation physically fits onto our site," he said.

"That opportunity will be kept open as it is predominantly the current financial viability that prevents the project being taken forward at this stage."

Meanwhile, Cheltenham Town have agreed to let Gloucester City groundshare at Whaddon Road for a further year.

The Tigers have been without a permanent home since their Meadow Park ground was damaged by flood water in 2007. They shared with Forest Green Rovers and Cirencester before linking up with Cheltenham in 2010.

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