In early May, the Chairman of Bristol Rovers FC said about the Memorial Ground: “We have a team of specialist property people working on behalf of the club. What happens to it (the Memorial Stadium) is part of the bigger picture… Let’s wait and see”
(Source: Bristol Rovers finally pull plug on Sainsbury’s legal battle which cost club £1.5 million Bristol Post, 5 May 2016)
Well it’s now 6th July and the wait continues, with not much to see.
Meanwhile, The Bishopston Society has produced an online survey, asking how the community (and Bristol) might benefit from the Memorial Ground, which has been listed by Bristol City Council as an ‘Asset of Community Value’. Please do contribute your ideas. The land was donated to trustees of the Bristol Rugby Club by a local benefactor – and Bristolians paid for the construction works. The Memorial Ground was (and could continue to be) the pride of Bristol.
The Jordanian banking family who now own Bristol Rovers FC and the Memorial Ground, are rightly determined to build a new stadium for the club at UWE. The owners are fabulously wealthy, so the justification for an enabling scheme (selling the Memorial Ground to pay for the new stadium) to help out the previously “cash-strapped” football club, no longer applies. This enabling scheme had been persuasively advanced by Steve Comer, a declared Bristol Rovers shareholder and councillor sitting in the 2013 planning committee. This compromised committee was influenced to give permission for the supermarket redevelopment – a bad idea now well understood to have been a big mistake.
Wael Al Qadi has a duty as the custodian of a war memorial and a sport heritage site. It is hoped that he has a sense of pride in the place and that he will manage it sympathetically. The war memorial is not brown field development land. The new owners need to ‘get’ this.
The following facts should be bourn in mind by the custodians of the war memorial sports ground:
- The purpose and function of the land is as a place of remembrance for Bristol rugby players killed in both world wars, including three hundred in the First World War.
- The sportsmen are remembered through sport.
- The sports ground war memorial was intended to inspire Bristolians for ever.
- The Covenant on the land, restricts its use to sport or recreation.
Bristol Rovers team and manager are to be congratulated on a tremendous season, winning promotion to League One in a thrilling way, in the last minutes of the last game. Wael Al Qadi has revitalised the club and saved it from bankruptcy. We hope that he and Rovers can now work with the local community for the benefit of Rovers and of Bristol.
The Bishopston Society online survey is at: