Proposals have been announced that would see Fisher FC return to Rotherhithe as part of a new development involving the disused Surrey Docks Stadium and St Paul’s playing field sites.
Fairview New Homes have agreed to buy the freehold of the former Surrey Docks Stadium from receivers appointed by Ulster Bank. Fairview are proposing a development of the stadium site, and a linked development of St Paul’s playing field on Salter Road , that would see the disused playing field site turned into a brand new football facility that would serve as a home ground for Fisher FC.
On the site of the Surrey Docks Stadium, home to Fisher Athletic until 2004, a landscaped community park will be created while there will be a residential development on the ‘yard’ area of the stadium site.
At the AGM of Fisher Society Ltd last week Fisher members gave unanimous support to the proposals.
Welcoming the members’ decision, Fisher FC chair Ben Westmancott commented: “After nearly a decade in exile from our Bermondsey and Rotherhithe home, and four years after reforming Fisher as a supporter-owned club, we now have a fantastic opportunity to bring Fisher FC back home and to establish a base at the heart of our community.”
The planned facility at St Paul’s would form a home not just for Fisher’s first team but also for the many youth teams that the club runs. A state of the art 3G pitch would be installed, to help ensure that the wider community also benefits from the investment. Mr Westmancott explained:
“We’ve had really positive discussions with officers at Southwark Council, who own the freehold of the St Paul’s site, and they have assured us that the new facility will be Fisher’s home. But they are also clear that the benefits that this investment will bring must be shared with the wider community. We completely support their position on this, and as a club one of our constitutional objectives is to enable wider participation in football in our community.
“With those aims in mind, a 3G pitch is a necessity. A number of clubs have shown just how well they can work including Maidstone United, and we will be able to use the surface in the league as well as the FA Vase, and FA Cup qualifying rounds.”
While Fairview New Homes Ltd will be providing £500,000 funding for the development, via payments made to Southwark Council, there will still be a requirement for Fisher and Southwark Council to access additional grant funding to ensure that the anticipated total cost of circa £0.75M can be covered. Mr Westmancott explained:
“Fisher will need to a make a financial contribution to the development and there is now lots of hard work to do to access the opportunities we have identified for grant funding – and the club will also be undertaking fund raising initiatives.
“The development is of course subject to obtaining planning permission, and even if everything goes according to plan we still have two more tough years to survive by ground-sharing. We need our members, supporters and friends in the community to come together and help us get through these two seasons while we work hard on making a new home on Salter Road a reality.
“I’d like to put on record our thanks to Fairview New Homes Ltd and Southwark Council who have worked positively and constructively with us over the last few months. We have also received outstanding practical support from Supporters Direct, the national organisation that supports and encourages fan-ownership of football clubs.”
Simon Hughes MP said: “There will no doubt still be discussion and further developments of the plans for Fairview New Homes to develop the old Fisher Football Club ground in Salter Road.
“But the dramatic disappearance into administration of the company which was Fisher’s previous owner has given a great chance for the Fish to return to Salter Road, although on a new site on St Paul’s playing fields.
“The club, the council and Fairview are to be congratulated on working together to give a great new opportunity for a new start for Fisher in Rotherhithe.
“All being well a good deal can be done in the months ahead which will deliver a decent number of affordable homes, new green space and above all a new and welcoming home for the much loved Fisher Football Club.”