AFC Totton in talks which could lead to Testwood Stadium sale

ANDY STRAKER

AFC Totton's Testwood Stadium home

First published in Sport Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Non-league football reporter

AFC TOTTON have confirmed they are in preliminary partnership discussions with Totton College which could result in the cash-strapped club selling their Testwood Stadium ground.

Although talks are still in their infancy, club members liked what they heard in Monday’s members-only meeting and have given the Stags their blessing for discussions with the college to continue.

With £170,000 of debt still to clear, the Calor Southern Premier Division outfit – who teetered on the brink of extinction last summer – are seeking the best way forward.

“The partnership would be about us working a lot closer with Totton College with them being able to use our ground, us using their facilities and whatever else comes out of the negotiations,” confirmed chairman Andy Straker.

AFC Totton members were given a briefing on Monday on how we want to go forward and not a single one voted against us continuing our discussions with Totton College.”

When the Stags moved into their new £2.9m home in Salisbury Road in February 2011, it looked like the dawn of a bright, new era.

But the facilities have become a millstone round the neck of the 128-year-old club who, despite their best efforts this season, are still weighed down by debt and have already seen league rivals Hinckley United go under this season with reported debts of more than £200,000.

Asked whether Totton selling the ground to the college and renting it back was a possibility, Straker said: “It may well be an option, yes, with a peppercorn rent and them using the ground weekdays and us using it weekends and evenings.

“We’ve got £170,00 of debt to clear and, if that meant selling the ground, it’s something we might look at provided the agreement is watertight and we can be a successful club going forward.”

Straker, however, stressed that any sort of agreement is still a long way off.

“Both sides would need to be happy and understand the full implications of where we are going with it,” he said.

“AFC Totton would need to speak to the council and legal advisers and Totton College would need to get agreement at management and executive level.

“There’s loads of talking to be done and it’s not a foregone conclusion in any way, shape or form, but it was agreed by our membership that it’s the best way forward for the club.

“We’re hopeful, very hopeful, that we could come to an agreement that they (the college) would be happy with, we would be happy with, and would see Totton College having better facilities for their students and a full, proper future for AFC Totton.”

When the true extent of Totton’s financial problems came to light last summer, Alf Peckham – one of four trustees charged with safeguarding the Testwood Stadium for the benefit of the community – stated that the ground ‘belonged’ to the people of Totton and would not be sold.

But Straker said: “That was the view at the time, but times change and we have to do what’s best for the club. It’s all very well saying we own our own ground, but the bills for gas, rates, water, etc come to thousands of pounds a month. How can you get the debt down and still run the place? Without a massive injection of cash, you can’t.”

If any sort of partnership does goes ahead, it could open up the possibility of Totton College using the Testwood Stadium as an academy base similar to the one Aldershot/Sparsholt Colleges are currently setting up at the Portway Stadium, Andover.

Comments (12)

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7:16am Wed 8 Jan 14

Saint Stag says...

As an AFC Totton supporter and member I fully support our executive committee in their negotiations with Totton College. The ever rising overheads are too much for a club of Totton's size to keep pace with . A club with an average crowd of 300 just can't generate enough cash to run such a facility nowadays. Rising utility bills are affecting everybody and football clubs are no different.
As an AFC Totton supporter and member I fully support our executive committee in their negotiations with Totton College. The ever rising overheads are too much for a club of Totton's size to keep pace with . A club with an average crowd of 300 just can't generate enough cash to run such a facility nowadays. Rising utility bills are affecting everybody and football clubs are no different. Saint Stag
  • Score: 5

8:40am Wed 8 Jan 14

saint61 says...

“The partnership would be about us working a lot closer with Totton College with them being able to use our ground, us using their facilities and whatever else comes out of the negotiations,” confirmed chairman Andy Straker

BUT IF IT IS SOLD TO TOTTON COLLEGE DOES IT NOT BECOME THEIR GROUND AND FACILITIES. FOR THE FOOTBALL CLUB TO USE WHEN THEY ARE TOLD.

What a fall from grace! the club hav been living above their means since the 80's. Getback to the Wessex league where they can live within their means.
“The partnership would be about us working a lot closer with Totton College with them being able to use our ground, us using their facilities and whatever else comes out of the negotiations,” confirmed chairman Andy Straker BUT IF IT IS SOLD TO TOTTON COLLEGE DOES IT NOT BECOME THEIR GROUND AND FACILITIES. FOR THE FOOTBALL CLUB TO USE WHEN THEY ARE TOLD. What a fall from grace! the club hav been living above their means since the 80's. Getback to the Wessex league where they can live within their means. saint61
  • Score: -8

1:24pm Wed 8 Jan 14

Bashover says...

What a complete joke!! Why would a respectable college want to get involved in a crooked, corrupt, bankrupt football club. Your no better than Pompey clubs like this should be wound up and fully investigated with criminal charges brought to the people responsible for stealing from their coffers!!
What a complete joke!! Why would a respectable college want to get involved in a crooked, corrupt, bankrupt football club. Your no better than Pompey clubs like this should be wound up and fully investigated with criminal charges brought to the people responsible for stealing from their coffers!! Bashover
  • Score: 2

7:04pm Wed 8 Jan 14

EarlyRiser says...

So if you have evidence to back up your drivel you should pass it to the relevant authorities.
So if you have evidence to back up your drivel you should pass it to the relevant authorities. EarlyRiser
  • Score: 0

7:11pm Wed 8 Jan 14

Saint Stag says...

Bashover & Saint61.............
..................A few things to say to you. The College are aware that those who ran the club almost to the wall are no longer involved so i guess this is why they are happy to negotiate with the current AFC Totton committee. As I said,the people who ran the club into trouble are not running it any more! Why should the innocent supporters who stepped forward to try and save the club be punished for financial mismanagement that went on previously? It is always the way of it that supporters and the new committee are the ones to pick up the s--t in a situation like this, whilst those who are responsible for the mismanagement disappear over the horizon and get away with it scot free! As for who will get 1st choice on using the stadium I would imagine that most College games happen during the day during the week leaving it free for evenings and weekends. This sort of thing will be sorted in the negotiations. I am sure common sense will prevail and both Totton college and the football club will be able to work something out that suits both parties.

I would like to finish by saying that I am flabbergasted at how much the utility bills are at the stadium. Nearly every Totton fan was very excited about the prospect of moving to a new stadium, apparently the bills are treble what they were at the old Testwood Park! Totton, like most non league clubs are struggling to bring in advertising revenues. So, other than bar takings and a little bit made in the club shop, the club are trying to survive on revenue generated from crowds of around 300. It doesn't take Einstein to work out that you wont be able to afford to run a modern stadium based on that income, let alone trying to pay players. I see that clubs like Poole Town are now trying to get a new stadium.......my advice to them is do your sums, know what your bills are likely to be, and be bloody careful!!!..........
.if you are not then a new stadium could be a noose around your necks.
Bashover & Saint61............. ..................A few things to say to you. The College are aware that those who ran the club almost to the wall are no longer involved so i guess this is why they are happy to negotiate with the current AFC Totton committee. As I said,the people who ran the club into trouble are not running it any more! Why should the innocent supporters who stepped forward to try and save the club be punished for financial mismanagement that went on previously? It is always the way of it that supporters and the new committee are the ones to pick up the s--t in a situation like this, whilst those who are responsible for the mismanagement disappear over the horizon and get away with it scot free! As for who will get 1st choice on using the stadium I would imagine that most College games happen during the day during the week leaving it free for evenings and weekends. This sort of thing will be sorted in the negotiations. I am sure common sense will prevail and both Totton college and the football club will be able to work something out that suits both parties. I would like to finish by saying that I am flabbergasted at how much the utility bills are at the stadium. Nearly every Totton fan was very excited about the prospect of moving to a new stadium, apparently the bills are treble what they were at the old Testwood Park! Totton, like most non league clubs are struggling to bring in advertising revenues. So, other than bar takings and a little bit made in the club shop, the club are trying to survive on revenue generated from crowds of around 300. It doesn't take Einstein to work out that you wont be able to afford to run a modern stadium based on that income, let alone trying to pay players. I see that clubs like Poole Town are now trying to get a new stadium.......my advice to them is do your sums, know what your bills are likely to be, and be bloody careful!!!.......... .if you are not then a new stadium could be a noose around your necks. Saint Stag
  • Score: 4

7:50pm Wed 8 Jan 14

Hamlet64 says...

There are better options. It's just a shame mr straker won't entertain them. The members could keep ownership of ground and not have any debts but that doesn't fit with mr strakers agenda. Perhaps he should realise that he is meant to look at the best interests of the members and not himself
There are better options. It's just a shame mr straker won't entertain them. The members could keep ownership of ground and not have any debts but that doesn't fit with mr strakers agenda. Perhaps he should realise that he is meant to look at the best interests of the members and not himself Hamlet64
  • Score: -6

8:11pm Wed 8 Jan 14

Winch85 says...

Meanwhile the club continues to crawl under a stone when it comes to giving supporters information.The day after an important meeting the only news on the website is about a match commentary which will be listened to by ten people. Thanks for the updates Echo. We'd be lost without you.
Meanwhile the club continues to crawl under a stone when it comes to giving supporters information.The day after an important meeting the only news on the website is about a match commentary which will be listened to by ten people. Thanks for the updates Echo. We'd be lost without you. Winch85
  • Score: 1

9:23pm Wed 8 Jan 14

Saint Stag says...

Hamlet 64, the other option you to refer to is far from the best option for the club. I know Andy from when he stood on the terraces and he is not looking for the best options for himself, if you really believe he is then you are totally misinformed and misguided and I suggest you withdraw that comment. Andy is a REAL FAN of the club and a vast majority of our fans know this so you can slag him off all you like but your criticism will just make him even more determined than ever to sort out the mess he has been left with so don't waste your breath. Also, The other option you refer to would have meant a NEW football club being formed. 'AFC Totton Ltd' The proposals from 'those involved in that deal' quite clearly state that the new football club would be debt free. So, what happens to the debts? Oh, they are left with the current AFC Totton of which the those present are the members, oh yeah that's really in their interests!!! Did you know that a new football club would have to start at the bottom division....Probably Wessex One?......How is that in the members interest? Also it is known that a certain person banned from the game for 3 years is involved in your option and that alone scares the s--t out of the AFC Totton membership. They will have nothing to do with him...... end of.
Hamlet 64, the other option you to refer to is far from the best option for the club. I know Andy from when he stood on the terraces and he is not looking for the best options for himself, if you really believe he is then you are totally misinformed and misguided and I suggest you withdraw that comment. Andy is a REAL FAN of the club and a vast majority of our fans know this so you can slag him off all you like but your criticism will just make him even more determined than ever to sort out the mess he has been left with so don't waste your breath. Also, The other option you refer to would have meant a NEW football club being formed. 'AFC Totton Ltd' The proposals from 'those involved in that deal' quite clearly state that the new football club would be debt free. So, what happens to the debts? Oh, they are left with the current AFC Totton of which the those present are the members, oh yeah that's really in their interests!!! Did you know that a new football club would have to start at the bottom division....Probably Wessex One?......How is that in the members interest? Also it is known that a certain person banned from the game for 3 years is involved in your option and that alone scares the s--t out of the AFC Totton membership. They will have nothing to do with him...... end of. Saint Stag
  • Score: 3

9:51pm Wed 8 Jan 14

Hamlet64 says...

Sorry saint stag you don't know the other option as what you have described is not it.
Sorry saint stag you don't know the other option as what you have described is not it. Hamlet64
  • Score: -2

10:43pm Wed 8 Jan 14

Saint Stag says...

Hamlet64 wrote:
Sorry saint stag you don't know the other option as what you have described is not it.
Feel free to explain what 'other option' you are referring to then.
[quote][p][bold]Hamlet64[/bold] wrote: Sorry saint stag you don't know the other option as what you have described is not it.[/p][/quote]Feel free to explain what 'other option' you are referring to then. Saint Stag
  • Score: 0

10:25am Thu 9 Jan 14

peachy1 says...

This is so boring

The club is in so much trouble it's incredible the members still refuse to accept that they have played their part by not supporting the facility

The place is empty during the week everyone is in so much denial

Meanwhile little people continue to scupper the efforts of the committee

People despite being banned from football still in the wings causing chaos with all sorts of rubbish with no substance or truth to their claims.

The club has hurt some really good people that they just won't come back

The people who are concerned about Totton College coming in need to understand that due to these idiots have caused the problems by slagging off the club and hell bent on destroying the Football club

There are no other bids the options are

1 accept it
2 let the club go bust
3 let the idiots in
This is so boring The club is in so much trouble it's incredible the members still refuse to accept that they have played their part by not supporting the facility The place is empty during the week everyone is in so much denial Meanwhile little people continue to scupper the efforts of the committee People despite being banned from football still in the wings causing chaos with all sorts of rubbish with no substance or truth to their claims. The club has hurt some really good people that they just won't come back The people who are concerned about Totton College coming in need to understand that due to these idiots have caused the problems by slagging off the club and hell bent on destroying the Football club There are no other bids the options are 1 accept it 2 let the club go bust 3 let the idiots in peachy1
  • Score: -3

9:17pm Tue 28 Jan 14

Hamlet64 says...

Looks like no 1 is no longer an option
Looks like no 1 is no longer an option Hamlet64
  • Score: 0

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