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Grounds for optimism? What is the state of play with the West Country's top football and rugby clubs

Create: 02/22/2017 - 00:00

Desiring a new stadium and achieving it as many of our Westcountry clubs  have found is far from the same thing. We take a quick look at the regional state of play.

With the Supporters' Society becoming the biggest shareholder in 2016 there is a continuing debate about whether the club should redevelop Twerton Park or continue to look for a new ground in Bath.
Despite Bruce Craig taking over the club in 2010 and stating that a 20-25,000 stadium must be in place within five years, that outcome still looks to be a long way off. In the meantime the club have undertaken a variety of piecemeal improvements to The Rec, slightly expanding capacity that way.
Basking in the new found pleasures of a £45 million re-developed Ashton Gate clearly demonstrates you can make a very fine silk purse from a sow’s ear. However, it was not without problems as the desire for a stadium on new land at Ashton Vale were thwarted after long and bitter planning wrangles with the local community.
For the Pirates it’s been a long and choppy journey towards a new stadium, with little new development at the Memorial Ground. Therefore, fans eagerly await news on the club’s potential move to South Gloucestershire and a stadium based at the University of West of England site.
The Robins have had various discussions over the years about the possibility of moving ground, at one time to the town's racecourse, but there is nothing in the pipeline at the moment.
Despite The New Lawn being the newest ground in the region, ambitious FGR are ploughing ahead with their proposed wooden eco stadium next to the M5 junction at Stroud.
With their ground devastated by floods in 2007 it now looks like City’s ten-year wait to get back to Gloucester will soon be over, with a planned return to a redesigned Meadow Park. Final planning permission was secured on October 4, with work due to commence soon.
The club considered a move back in 2007 to a new 15,000 all-seater stadium and then rejected it, preferring to stay at their ancestral city centre home of Kingsholm. 
Despite years of speculation and enormous growth in the town's footprint, any move away from their leased County Ground still looks a long way off with any new investment more likely to be focussed on training facilities. 

About Author

Andrew Kerslake
Andrew Kerslake is the Managing Director of XtraTime. He has worked as a freelance sports journalist covering both football and cricket and written and broadcast journalism. In another life he was also Professor of Public Care at Oxford Brookes University.